Monson: Everson Griffen might have higher ceiling than Brian Robison
Many Vikings observers had their eyes on the quarterback situation as the NFL's free agency season crept closer. Matt Cassel re-signed Friday, which answered that question before it officially was asked.
But by far the bigger deal, with longer term ramifications, was the decision to hand Everson Griffen a reported 5-year, $42.5 million extension.
It may raise eyebrows for some, because Griffen isn't known as a starter. But don't let that fool you. Griffen was a productive player in his time on the field, according to Pro Football Focus. And the fact the Vikings were willing to pay that salary over five years means that not only did Rick Spielman view Griffen as valuable, but new head coach Mike Zimmer also thinks Griffen can fit the system Zimmer wants to run.
Sam Monson, an analyst at Pro Football Focus, joined Phil Mackey and Judd Zulgad for a radio interview Monday. Monson said the 'part-time' label shouldn't concern Vikings fans, and the Griffen perhaps the highest ceiling of any pass rusher on the team.
"Everson Griffen is an interesting guy because he's only technically started, I think, one game. But he played over 700 snaps last year. He has played like an every-down player almost," Monson told Mackey & Judd. "He basically played the same amount of snaps last season that Kevin Williams did, and no one is questioning how much he was on the field. Griffen's the most talented pass rusher they have, maybe.
"I think he maybe even has a higher ceiling than Brian Robison," Monson said.
With a reported $20 million in guaranteed money, there appears to be a decent chance Griffen will have to earn the bulk of his contract.
"It's going to depend how that money is structured .... The potential is that they're not paying him a massive amount of money unless he earns it with quality play - in which case, it's probably a fair market-value deal," Monson said.
Right time to say goodbye?
While the commitments to Robison and Griffen don't necessarily mean the Vikings are done pursuing a pass rusher, it became clear over the weekend that the team would part ways with Jared Allen.
Monson said in the interview Monday that it's probably the right time for Minnesota to move on.
"I think his abilities and his skills and his production are declining. It might not show up in the sack numbers yet; his sack numbers didn't drop last year, but the amount of pressure he was bringing overall did," Monson told Mackey & Judd. "It's going to depend what kind of money he gets elsewhere. ... If he's still looking for serious money it's absolutely the right time to move on [for the Vikings]."