Everson Griffen says goodbye to Vikings on Instagram

Defensive end Everson Griffen doesn’t know what his NFL future holds, but he does know that it won’t be with the Minnesota Vikings.

Griffen posted on Instagram Friday afternoon that after 10 seasons with the Vikings, he’s not returning for the 2020 season. He had expressed a desire on more than one occasion to be back with Minnesota this season.

“While it is with a heavy heart that I say goodbye, I leave Minnesota in the best physical and mental shape I have ever been and have many Pro Bowl seasons to come! Wherever my next stop is, I will always be grateful to and cheering for the Vikings. Thank you for all the love, support and memories,” Griffen said on Instagram.

Griffen had a bounce-back year in 2019, starting 15 games, recording 41 tackles, eight sacks, 11 tackles for loss, 24 quarterback hits and one interception. He was selected to the Pro Bowl in four of his 10 seasons with Minnesota, including last year.

He missed five games in 2018 to address concerns for his mental health after an incident at a downtown Minneapolis hotel. He used his platform multiple times during the 2019 season to express the importance of “win the day, win the moment” and get help if you’re struggling.

Griffen took a pay cut to return to the Vikings in 2019. He signed a four-year, $58 million extension back in 2017 that had him with the Vikings through the 2022 season. That deal was restructured last off-season, and Griffen opted out of his contract after this season by meeting incentives of playing in at least 57 percent of the defensive snaps and getting at least six sacks.

Griffen has 74.5 career sacks 147 games with the Vikings, which is good for fourth in franchise history. He had become a fan-favorite for his violent play on the defensive line, and sack dances.

He’s another departure to the defense since the NFL opened its legal tampering period on Monday. Xavier Rhodes and Linval Joseph were released last Friday. Trae Waynes, Mackensie Alexander, Stephen Weatherly and Andrew Sendejo.