Someone had to draw the short straw following the addition of defensive end Everson Griffen. That someone is fellow DE Jalen Jelks, whom the Dallas Cowboys waived from the 80-man offseason roster, the team announced Sunday.
Jelks, a 2019 seventh-round pick, missed his entire rookie campaign on injured reserve. He was deemed expendable after the Cowboys retooled their defensive line in recent months, bringing aboard ex-Pro Bowlers Griffen, Gerald McCoy, Dontari Poe, and Aldon Smith to pair with star pass-rusher DeMarcus Lawrence.
Dallas also boasts nose tackle Antwaun Woods and DE Tyrone Crawford — both former starters — and third- and sixth-round rookie DL Neville Gallimore and Bradlee Anae. Sophomore Trysten Hill and reserves Dorance Armstrong and Joe Jackson round out the log-jammed depth chart.
Griffen, 32, signed a one-year deal worth up to $6 million. He’ll earn $3 million in base salary for the 2020 season, with an additional $3 million available via roster bonuses and incentives.
The former longtime Viking must return three consecutive negative COVID-19 tests before being granted entry into the Cowboys’ facility at The Star. The plan, per the Dallas Morning News’ Michael Gehlken, is to “assess where he is physically” prior to his practice debut, which could take place in the “coming days.”
Sports Illustrated’s Mike Fisher reports Griffen may hit the field as soon as Tuesday. He will then begin assimilating into base and sub-packages for new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan.
A 2010 fourth-rounder who spent his entire career in Minnesota, Griffen has tallied 351 tackles, 254 solo stops, and 74.5 sacks across 147 appearances. He’s notched at least five sacks in eight consecutive seasons and has 26.5 QB takedowns over the past three years. He’s been voted to four Pro Bowls and was a second-team All-Pro selection in 2017 when he recorded 13 sacks.
Griffen totaled 41 tackles (11 tackles for loss), eight sacks, and an interception in 2019. He also accumulated 66 quarterback pressures, 14th-most out of all NFL edge defenders, according to Pro Football Focus.
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Griffen Delivers Charged Statement to Fans [WATCH]
Wasting no time, Griffen introduced himself to Cowboys Nation in a special video message posted to the team’s Twitter account on Friday. In the brief clip, he expresses excitement over joining the silver and blue and appears highly motivated about “this new journey” toward the Lombardi Trophy.
“Cowboys Nation, I’m here, baby. It’s time to get back on the grind,” Griffen says in the video. “I’m excited to be with my teammates. I’m excited about this new journey. I’m excited about working towards going and get this championship. It’s that time to grind. It’s that time to learn. It’s that time to go get it. Can’t wait, Cowboys Nation. Let’s go!”
— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) August 14, 2020
McCarthy Gushes Over Griffen
When Griffen strolls through club headquarters, he’ll meet a familiar face: new Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy, formerly of the Green Bay Packers — and many meetings against the ex-Vikings stud.
Suffice it to say, McCarthy is relieved to have joined forces and expects to witness the same dominant ability from the other side of the window.
“I can’t say enough about Everson Griffen,” he said Saturday, via ProFootballTalk. “Just the fact of being able to compete against him twice a year, he was always the primary focus for us offensively. Going up against him, he’s a relentless player. He brings it every down. Has great passion for the game.
“I had an opportunity to visit with him, and he’s extremely excited. He’s a big personality, so I think he’s going to be a great fit for our football team.”
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL