Before they take the field for their first practice, the Dallas Cowboys have added to their defensive line, agreeing to a one-year deal with veteran Everson Griffen, a source confirmed to ESPN.
The deal is worth $6 million, with $3 million in base salary and $3 million in roster bonuses, a source told ESPN’s Kimberley A. Martin.
The Cowboys have kept an eye on Griffen for much of the offseason and added him to the roster this week. In 10 seasons with the Vikings, Griffen recorded 74.5 sacks, including eight last season when he was named to the Pro Bowl for the fourth time.
The Cowboys lost last year’s sack leader at the start of free agency when Robert Quinn, who had 11.5 sacks in 2019, signed with the Chicago Bears. They added Aldon Smith in free agency, but he has not played in the NFL since 2015 because of myriad suspensions. The Cowboys are awaiting the possibility of Randy Gregory, their second-round pick in 2015, getting reinstated from an indefinite suspension.
DeMarcus Lawrence is a pass-rushing threat, but he had just five sacks last season after posting 25 sacks in 2017-18. Tyrone Crawford is coming off double hip surgery that limited him to four games and one sack last season. While he is currently on the physically unable to perform list, the expectation is he will be practicing during training camp.
Dorance Armstrong is the only other returning defensive end on the roster to record a sack last season.
NFL Network first reported the one-year agreement.
Upon voiding the final three years of his contract in February, Griffen put himself in line to become a free agent at the start of the new league year.
Griffen restructured his deal last offseason, signing a four-year extension that was to keep him under contract in Minnesota through 2022. But as one of two NFL players last season with a player-controlled void written into his deal, per a league source, Griffen had the option to void the remaining three years of his contract if he totaled at least six sacks and played 57% of his team’s snaps. The veteran defensive end finished 2019 with eight sacks and played 78% of defensive snaps.
At the NFL combine, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said he expected the defensive end to return to Minnesota for his 11th season, but less than a month later, Griffen said goodbye to the state and Vikings fans via an Instagram post.
Coming off his fourth Pro Bowl season, Zimmer called the defensive end’s play “excellent” in 2019, “maybe as good as I’ve seen him play since he’s been here.”
Two incidents in September 2018 that drew police involvement forced Griffen to step away from the game for five weeks while seeking treatment for his mental health, but he thrived again last season and said he “learned it’s OK to seek help.”
Griffen, 32, was drafted in the fourth round by Minnesota in 2010 and is fourth in franchise history with 74.5 sacks.