MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Everson Griffen didn't want to entertain offers from other teams. His loyalty was with the Minnesota Vikings.
They stuck with him after his rookie year when he was arrested twice for unruly behavior in a three-day span. They supported him when his mother suddenly died in 2012. So he's determined to pay them back with the production to match the five-year, $42.5 million contract they gave him with $20 million in guaranteed money.
"They're holding me up to a higher expectation. They knew what I could do when they drafted me here in 2010, and now it's time for me to go out there and blossom with this team, with all of my boys," Griffen said Tuesday on a conference call. "It's time to go out there and celebrate on the field every single play, every single down. It means the world to me. It just means they trust in me."
As free agency formally began, amid a flurry of headline-generating activity around the NFL, the Vikings finalized the contracts with Griffen and quarterback Matt Cassel that they agreed to over the weekend.
Minnesota also, according to ESPN, agreed to a five-year deal worth as much as $31.5 million with nose tackle Linval Joseph. FoxSports.com first reported that deal, which will bring the 6-foot-4, 323-pound stalwart from the New York Giants to anchor new coach Mike Zimmer's defense. Joseph, a second-round pick out of East Carolina in 2010, averaged 55 tackles and three sacks over the last three seasons. He will fill a critical run-stopping spot on the line.
Griffen will handle the edge, along with returning starter Brian Robison, and replace the departed Jared Allen in the starting lineup. Griffen had 13½ sacks over the last two years as a part-timer.
"Oh, man, I haven't even touched the surface of what I can do," Griffen said. "I'm ready to work. I'm ready to listen. I'm going to absorb all of this knowledge that coach Zimmer is going to give me."
Griffen was almost beside himself with excitement in talking about his future. Though he's never played for Zimmer, or new defensive coordinator George Edwards or new defensive line coach Andre Patterson, Griffen sounded supremely confident in their ability to teach technique, devise a game plan and motivate the players — especially the head coach.