Star defensive end Everson Griffen leaving Vikings after 10 seasons

Minnesota Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen (97) celebrates his sack of Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) in the second quarter of an NFL football game at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019. The Vikings beat Oakland,34-14. John Autey / St. Paul Pioneer Press

EAGAN, Minn. -- Star defensive end Everson Griffen is leaving the Minnesota Vikings after 10 seasons.

The 32-year-old free agent posted on Instagram Friday, March 20, that he will depart. His agent Brian Murphy, said in a statement that the Vikings do not want to pay the type on money required to re-sign Griffen.

“We have broken off talks with Minnesota because they have to spend their money elsewhere and we decided to now focus our attention on free agency,” Murphy said in the statement.

A source said Griffen will continue with the free-agency process and that no team is close to signing him.

Griffen missed five games in 2018 due to mental-health issues but rebounded last season to make his fourth Pro Bowl in five seasons.

When reached on his cell phone Friday, Griffen immediately hung up.

A source said earlier this week Griffen was looking for a deal in the range of $8 million to $10 million for 2020. A source said Friday that the Vikings are “super constrained with the salary cap” and didn’t consider such an amount possible. The source said there never were serious negotiations with the Vikings due to that obstacle.

The source said Friday that it remains up in the air what team Griffen will join, and a factor will be where Seattle star free-agent defensive end Jadeveon Clowney ends up. Griffen could be a backup plan for a team that doesn’t get Clowney.

Griffen opted out of his contract last month to become a free agent. Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said at last month’s combine he had expected him to re-sign. 

“He’s a terrific person,” Zimmer said then. “I think our situation is the right one for him. We expect him to be back. I think he wants to be back, and those kinds of things usually work (their) way out.”

After being selected in the fourth round of the 2010, Griffen was a reserve for his first four seasons. He took over as a starter in 2014, and had 57 sacks over the next six seasons. Overall, he had 74 1/2 sacks in his Minnesota career.

“When I came to Minnesota as a fourth-round pick out of USC, I had no idea how much my life would change over the next 10 years,” Griffen wrote on Instagram. “I realized my dream of playing in the NFL, went to four Pro Bowls and came within one game (in the 2017 season) of playing in the Super Bowl (at U.S. Bank Stadium) in front of the best fans in the country.

“More importantly, I became a husband, a dad and met teammates who became brothers for life. ‘I also stumbled a few times on my journey and could not be more grateful for the unconditional support and love I received from SKOL Nation.”

Griffen is the fourth starter to have departed in the past week from Minnesota’s highly regarded defense. Nose tackle Linval Joseph and cornerback Xavier Rhodes were released last week in moves related to the salary cap. Free-agent corrnerback Trae Waynes agreed a three-year, $42 million contract with Cincinnati this week. Also, top nickelback Mackensie Alexander joined the Bengals on a one-year, $4 million deal.

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