Griffen decision reminiscent of 2010 choice

Everson Griffen (Tom Dahlin/Viking Update)

The Vikings had to choose: Hall of Fame résumé vs. developing potential. They made the choice for the long term. Behind the scenes, they know what they have with Everson Griffen, even if outsiders are shocked at the amount of money he got.

Sunday was anything but a day of rest for the Vikings. They didn't address any of their most pressing needs, but made a pair of significant signings – making sure Everson Griffen didn't hit the free agent market and bringing back middle linebacker Jasper Brinkley.

Much in the same way the Vikings made a franchise decision in which defensive end they were going to invest in four years ago, it would appear history repeated itself Sunday.

Late last season, the Vikings had the same dilemma they had down the stretch of the 2010 season. As the 2013 season wound down, it seemed to become clear that the Vikings weren't going to be able to keep both Jared Allen and Everson Griffen. They were going to have the money to invest on one of them, but not both.

In the end, the Vikings made no outward effort to renegotiate or extend Allen's contract, which is saying something because he received a huge contract when the Vikings made the trade with Kansas City that brought him to Minnesota. The Vikings paid every dime and never made an effort to re-negotiate a deal to lower his cap number. The handwriting was on the wall back in November. We were seeing the last ride of the Ol' Calf-Roper.

What gives the Griffen signing – as well as the official "adios" to Allen –the sense of déjà vu is that we saw the same situation play itself out three years earlier.

In December 2010, Vikings fans didn't have playoff distractions to occupy their time, so they naturally started looking to the future. Brett Favre wasn't coming back, so quarterback would be an issue. At the same time, the Vikings had a pretty big question at defensive end. Both starter Ray Edwards and part-time DE Brian Robison had their contracts expiring. The Vikings had the money to sign one of them, but not both.

At the time, Edwards was the starter and Robison was the third-down guy. The Vikings saw enough in Robison that when the organization decided to invest eight figures into a contract offer, it went to Robison, not Edwards following that season.

The average Vikings fan was relatively stunned by the decision. Robison had never been a full-time player and Edwards was the established starter. The Vikings made the call and went with Robison.

With hindsight as our guide, it was the right decision for the franchise. Robison has become a productive starter, and that's the bottom line. Edwards became famous for two things – taking money from Arthur Blank and "knocking out" a boxing tomato can without landing a punch (the YouTube video never gets old).

Allen isn't going to be an embarrassment on his final NFL ride. There's no questioning that the last stop on his NFL career will be in Canton. The only question will be whether he will be the first bronze bust to sport a mullet. History teaches us that Hall of Famers are not easily replaced. Just ask those that followed in wake of Dan Marino in Miami about that.

Three years ago, the Vikings were faced with an identical decision – pay top dollar for the guy with the reputation or pay the guy you have developed to be an impact player. Hindsight says they made the right decision keeping Robison over Edwards. This time they invested a five-year, $42.5 million contract in Griffen. Will hindsight three years from now say they made the right move keeping Griffen? The answer will be written over time.


John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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