Pro Bowl DE Everson Griffen parting ways with Minnesota Vikings

March 20 (UPI) — The Minnesota Vikings are losing Pro Bowl defensive end Everson Griffen to free agency.

Griffen, who spent 10 seasons with the Vikings after the franchise selected him in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft, posted a farewell message Friday on social media. In the Instagram post, the four-time Pro Bowler thanked Vikings fans for their support.

“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. “I realized my dream of playing in the NFL, went to four Pro Bowls and came within one game of playing in the Super Bowl 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.

“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 all for the love, support and memories.”

Griffen, 32, voided the remaining three years on his contract last month after accomplishing two milestones last season — recording six or more sacks and playing at least 57 percent of the Vikings’ defensive snaps. According to ESPN, Griffen was one of two players last season who had a player-controlled void written into his agreement.

Griffen’s agent, Brian Murphy, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that he broke off contract discussions with the Vikings because “they have to spend their money elsewhere.” According to ESPN, Griffen wanted to return to Minnesota but refused to play on another reduced salary, like he did last season.

The move cleared about $13.1 million in salary-cap space for the Vikings entering this month’s free agent signing period.

Griffen, who was named second-team All-Pro in 2017, has notched 353 total tackles, 74.5 sacks, two interceptions and 16 passes defensed in 147 career games with the Vikings. He ranks fourth in franchise history in sacks, recording a career-best 13 quarterback takedowns in the 2017 campaign.

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