The Vikings have lost six starters in the offseason, including four on defense. Nose tackle Linval Joseph (released), defensive end Everson Griffen (free agency) and cornerbacks Xavier Rhodes (released) and Trae Waynes (free agency) no longer are Vikings.
“Some of these guys that we’ve had to make some very, very tough decisions on, it had nothing to do with them as football players,” Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman said in a Tuesday conference call, via Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press. “It had nothing to do with them as people or what they do for our community. It’s just sometimes, I would bet we’ve kept that defense together as long as anyone has in that six-year span, it’s just, right now, we’re just in an evolution period of our roster.”
Griffen remains a free agent, and even though he posted a lengthy good-bye to the team last month, the Vikings aren’t completely closing the door on a return.
“I don’t think things broke down,” Spielman said. “I’ve had some great conversations with Everson.”
Spielman declined to answer a follow question about whether that means Griffen could return. According to Tomasson, who quoted a source, Griffen “probably won’t” return to Minnesota but there remains at least a slim chance if the Vikings don’t get the pass rusher they want in the draft.
Griffen has spent his entire 10-year career with the Vikings and is fourth in franchise history with 74.5 sacks.