NFL

Vikings bring back Griffen to bolster pass rush

By Sports Desk August 23, 2021

The Minnesota Vikings have signed pass rusher Everson Griffen, bringing him back for a second spell to bolster Mike Zimmer's defense.

Griffen was drafted as a fourth-round pick by the Vikings in 2010 and the defensive end went on to rack up 74.5 sacks in 10 seasons for Minnesota.

That number puts him fourth on the all-time list for the Vikings, though sacks as a stat have only been counted since 1982. Including players who began their careers before that season, Griffen ranks seventh.

He had six last season playing for the Dallas Cowboys and the Detroit Lions but is back with the Vikings to try to help Minnesota turn around their defensive fortunes after a disappointing 2020.

Minnesota allowed 6.07 yards per play last season, ranking 27th in the NFL, while the Vikings registered 19 sacks for negative yardage. Only two teams – the Jacksonville Jaguars and Cincinnati Bengals – posted fewer.

They will hope the return of Griffen, along with defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, will help dramatically increase that number. The Vikings will also be able to call on Danielle Hunter again after he missed the entire 2020 season through injury.

Hunter ranked ninth among edge rushers with a pressure rate of 26.4 per cent in 2019. Griffen's 21.7 per cent was still above the average of 18.2 for players with at least 200 edge snaps.

Richardson's pressure rate of 14.4 for the Cleveland Browns last season was more decidedly more mediocre but still above the average of 13.2 for the defensive tackle position.

The Vikings could see instant dividends on the return of that trio in their season opener on September 12, which sees them face a Cincinnati Bengals offensive line that gave up 45 sacks for negative yards last year, tied for fourth-most in the NFL.

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