Approaching free agency for the second time in as many years, Everson Griffen is firing up the calls for his return to the Minnesota Vikings on social media.
Feverently retweeting and chiming in on fans urging the Vikings to re-sign Griffen, the 33-year-old defensive end who played for both the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys this season shared a photo of Mike Zimmer and him shaking hands after a game this season.
One fan tagged former 2013 Vikings first-round pick Cordarrelle Patterson, who will become a free agent after a two-year stint with the Chicago Bears, suggesting Griffen and Patterson rally back to Minnesota, an idea that Griffen responded with a three-letter acronym: LFG (Let’s F***** Go).
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Vikings Desperately Need Help From Griffen & Patterson
The two positions that the former Vikings specialize in are in dire straights since their departures.
Despite parting ways with all three starting corners from 2019, the defense’s biggest crux this season was not in the secondary but the trenches. The defensive line failed to muster any pressure without both Danielle Hunter, who was out all season with a neck injury that required surgery, and Griffen.
Minnesota’s leader in sacks to close the season is Yannick Ngakoue, the former Jacksonville Jaguar who was signed in September and traded to the Baltimore Ravens by October. Ngakoue tallied five sacks in six games before the trade, meanwhile, Ifeadi Odenigbo mustered 3.5 sacks in 15 starts behind Ngakoue.
The void on the defensive front became evident after the Vikings surrendered the most points in a single game in over 50 years in a disappointing 52-33 loss to the New Orleans Saints Christmas Day. Minnesota produced just a single pressure on Drew Brees, the fewest in any game by any team since 2016, per ESPN’s Courtney Cronin.
Special teams struggled after rookie K.J. Osborn began bobbling the ball early in the season, leaving the Vikings to defer to Ameer Abdullah. Kickoff return was the only phase of special teams Minnesota wasn’t miserable at this season, however, the Vikings did get a reminder of what Patterson had offered the team for years.
In their first game with the Bears this season, Patterson returned a kick 104 yards for a touchdown — a play that had Zimmer fuming at special teams coach Marwan Maalouf, who was not retained by the team this week.
Vikings Unlikely to Sign Either Griffen or Patterson
Patterson showed he still has plenty left in the tank. Griffen totaled six sacks between two different teams in his first year away from the team that drafted and developed him. While both could easily retain their original starting positions in Minnesota, it’s highly unlikely.
Griffen has been currying favor from several teams over the past two years and is rather more excited about the prospects of playing another year, regardless of where it may be. Patterson who is playing the Saints in the NFC Wild Card round, is a weapon Chicago likely won’t want to part ways with in the midst of several changes to the front office.
The Vikings also don’t have much cap space to work with in 2021, leaving Minnesota to use its 11 draft picks this offseason to reinforce the defensive line and acquire more developmental players for special teams.
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Trevor Squire is a Heavy contributor covering the Minnesota Vikings and journalism graduate from the University of Minnesota — Twin Cities. Connect with him on Twitter @trevordsquire and join our Vikings community at Heavy on Vikings on Facebook.