Sure, Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen has started one game in his career. But that actually makes his 17 sacks in the last three seasons (13.5 in the last two) even more impressive.
It was impressive enough to get him a top-of-the-market haul on a five-year deal. And now that he’s looking at $42.5 million, he’s ready to strive for a new level.
“They’re holding me up to a higher expectation. They knew what I could do when they drafted me here in 2010, and now it’s time for me to go out there and blossom with this team, with all of my boys,” Griffen said Tuesday on a media conference call, via the Associated Press. “It’s time to go out there and celebrate on the field every single play, every single down. It means the world to me. It just means they trust in me.”
Despite thriving under Leslie Frazier, Griffen is unfazed by the coaching change.
“I haven’t even touched the surface of what I can do,” Griffen said. “I’m ready to work. I’m ready to listen. I’m going to absorb all of this knowledge that Coach Zimmer is going to give me. . . . He’s going to pull the most out of you. He’s going to find what you’re made of. He’s going to make sure that he gets the best out of this team. I just feel with his mastermind skills and what he brings to the table, he’s going to use not just me, he’s going to use every single player on the team the right way.”
Some will continue to be skeptical about the decision to pay a somewhat unproven player so much money. Because he never actually hit the market, it’s hard to know what another team (perhaps Frazier’s Buccaneers) would have paid. Still, the decision to reward Griffen sends a strong message to the rest of the young players in the locker room — do what’s expected of you, perform well, and you won’t have to leave to get paid.
With the addition of former Giants defensive tackle Linval Joseph and the presence of defensive end Brian Robison and 2013 first-rounder Sharrif Floyd, who knows? It could be time for a new generation of the Purple People Eaters.