Notebook: Griffen embracing move to LB

Everson Griffen could turn around his slow-starting NFL career with the move to linebacker. Plus, how often does offset language come into play anyway, does Michael Floyd have a good enough work ethic and how many picks at the top of the third round have seen the 25 percent increase in their contracts?

  • Former USC defensive end Everson Griffen was one of the biggest disappointments in the 2010 NFL draft, when the presumed first-rounder slipped to the fourth round. And he's been a bit of a bust in his two years in Minnesota, with zero starts, and just 26 tackles. But the Vikings' coaches still feel the athletic Griffen can be a contributor, and will try him at linebacker in camp.

    Griffen has slimmed down some for the new role, and despite allowing that he might face challenges, seems to have embraced it. Griffin has four sacks in two seasons and might be able to handle a hybrid-type situation.

  • Some observers have questioned the importance of the offset language in the contract of first-rounders, and its significance to some recalcitrant teams, and the point is one with some merit. Of the 127 players chosen with first-round picks 2008-2011, only three have been released.

    Last season, only three first-round choices got deals with the offset language removed for all or part of their four-year contracts: Cam Newton of Carolina (No. 1), St. Louis' Robert Quinn (No. 14) and Prince Amukamara of the New York Giants (No. 19). So far this year, in addition to Andrew Luck (No. 1) and Robert Griffin III (No. 2), Tampa Bay safety Mark Barron (No. 7), Carolina linebacker Luke Kuechly (No. 9) and defensive tackle Michael Brockers of St. Louis (No. 14) have avoided it.

  • Free agent tailback Cedric Benson, linked to a few franchises the past several weeks (Oakland, Baltimore, the New York Jets), still has not come to the realization that he might have to sign somewhere for the veteran minimum salary, or close to it, and that's probably kept him unemployed at this point.

  • Reports are correct that the Steelers have made some progress in talks with wide receiver Mike Wallace, but there is still work to be done, team officials note. They're still optimistic about a possible deal before camp opens, but are taking a cautious stance, even privately.

  • Since he's under contract, Baltimore QB Joe Flacco was essentially bound to attend mandatory workouts in the offseason. Then again, there have been players under contract who boycotted the workouts. One Ravens official noted that, with the exception of the birth of his son, Stephen, in mid-June, Flacco attended all of the club's OTA sessions. His presence at the non-mandatory workouts probably earned him some points with Baltimore officials, as well as teammates.

  • Ravens officials aren't yet moved enough to have seriously considered an extension for perennial Pro Bowl safety Ed Reed, who announced this week that he will play in 2012, after vacillating much of the offseason. Reed is going into the final year of his current contract, scheduled to make $7.2 million and, as noted here last week, there are some concerns about his decline physically and on the field, as well.

  • Terrific note by Pat Yaskinkas of ESPN.com, that Atlanta defensive end John Abraham dropped into coverage in zone-blitz situations more than any defensive lineman in the league in 2011. But Abraham was largely ineffective in that role, and under new coordinator Mike Nolan, will do what he does best, rush the quarterback. That said, the Falcons will attempt to reduce Abraham's snaps for a second straight season.

  • Arizona first-round wide receiver Michael Floyd was slow in spring workouts to adjust to the NFL-level work ethic, and might start camp no better than No. 4 among the Cardinals' receivers.

  • There's still been no progress in discussions between the Seahawks and defensive end Chris Clemons, who skipped all of the team's offseason program. Nor has there been a decision yet about whether the eight-year veteran, who is entering the final season of his contract, will report to training camp.

  • Giants officials were said to be unaware that 2009 first-rounder Hakeem Nicks was technically ineligible during his final year at North Carolina, as reported on Friday. And even had they known, it likely would not have affected their choice.

  • It will be interesting to see how strident some of the agents with clients at the top of the third round remain in their pursuit of maximum 25-percent annual salary increases for their players. Only two of the first nine choices in the round – Buffalo wide receiver T.J. Graham (No. 6) and Washington guard Josh LeRibeus – had signed as of Friday morning. And neither had received anything close to the 25-percent bumps, as The Sports Xchange noted of Graham in an early-week column. On Friday morning, there were as many third-rounders as first-round picks (11 each) without contracts.

    The last word: "Back when I was involved in those activities, I may have become more dedicated to the deep study of dogs than I was to my Falcons' playbook. I became better at reading dogs than reading defenses. That's just so sad to say right now, because I put more time and effort into trying to master that pursuit than my own profession ... which was my livelihood ... which put food on the table for my family." -- Eagles quarterback Michael Vick, per "Finally Free," an autobiography that will be released Sept. 4


  • Viking Update Top Stories

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  • Former USC defensive end Everson Griffen was one of the biggest disappointments in the 2010 NFL draft, when the presumed first-rounder slipped to the fourth round. And he's been a bit of a bust in his two years in Minnesota, with zero starts, and just 26 tackles. But the Vikings' coaches still feel the athletic Griffen can be a contributor, and will try him at linebacker in camp. Griffen has slimmed down some for the new role, and despite allowing that he might face challenges, seems to have embraced it. Griffin has four sacks in two seasons and might be able to handle a hybrid-type situation.
  • Some observers have questioned the importance of the offset language in the contract of first-rounders, and its significance to some recalcitrant teams, and the point is one with some merit. Of the 127 players chosen with first-round picks 2008-2011, only three have been released. Last season, only three first-round choices got deals with the offset language removed for all or part of their four-year contracts: Cam Newton of Carolina (No. 1), St. Louis' Robert Quinn (No. 14) and Prince Amukamara of the New York Giants (No. 19). So far this year, in addition to Andrew Luck (No. 1) and Robert Griffin III (No. 2), Tampa Bay safety Mark Barron (No. 7), Carolina linebacker Luke Kuechly (No. 9) and defensive tackle Michael Brockers of St. Louis (No. 14) have avoided it.
  • Free agent tailback Cedric Benson, linked to a few franchises the past several weeks (Oakland, Baltimore, the New York Jets), still has not come to the realization that he might have to sign somewhere for the veteran minimum salary, or close to it, and that's probably kept him unemployed at this point.
  • Reports are correct that the Steelers have made some progress in talks with wide receiver Mike Wallace, but there is still work to be done, team officials note. They're still optimistic about a possible deal before camp opens, but are taking a cautious stance, even privately.
  • Since he's under contract, Baltimore QB Joe Flacco was essentially bound to attend mandatory workouts in the offseason. Then again, there have been players under contract who boycotted the workouts. One Ravens official noted that, with the exception of the birth of his son, Stephen, in mid-June, Flacco attended all of the club's OTA sessions. His presence at the non-mandatory workouts probably earned him some points with Baltimore officials, as well as teammates.
  • Ravens officials aren't yet moved enough to have seriously considered an extension for perennial Pro Bowl safety Ed Reed, who announced this week that he will play in 2012, after vacillating much of the offseason. Reed is going into the final year of his current contract, scheduled to make $7.2 million and, as noted here last week, there are some concerns about his decline physically and on the field, as well.
  • Terrific note by Pat Yaskinkas of ESPN.com, that Atlanta defensive end John Abraham dropped into coverage in zone-blitz situations more than any defensive lineman in the league in 2011. But Abraham was largely ineffective in that role, and under new coordinator Mike Nolan, will do what he does best, rush the quarterback. That said, the Falcons will attempt to reduce Abraham's snaps for a second straight season.
  • Arizona first-round wide receiver Michael Floyd was slow in spring workouts to adjust to the NFL-level work ethic, and might start camp no better than No. 4 among the Cardinals' receivers.
  • There's still been no progress in discussions between the Seahawks and defensive end Chris Clemons, who skipped all of the team's offseason program. Nor has there been a decision yet about whether the eight-year veteran, who is entering the final season of his contract, will report to training camp.
  • Giants officials were said to be unaware that 2009 first-rounder Hakeem Nicks was technically ineligible during his final year at North Carolina, as reported on Friday. And even had they known, it likely would not have affected their choice.
  • It will be interesting to see how strident some of the agents with clients at the top of the third round remain in their pursuit of maximum 25-percent annual salary increases for their players. Only two of the first nine choices in the round – Buffalo wide receiver T.J. Graham (No. 6) and Washington guard Josh LeRibeus – had signed as of Friday morning. And neither had received anything close to the 25-percent bumps, as The Sports Xchange noted of Graham in an early-week column. On Friday morning, there were as many third-rounders as first-round picks (11 each) without contracts. \"Back when I was involved in those activities, I may have become more dedicated to the deep study of dogs than I was to my Falcons' playbook. I became better at reading dogs than reading defenses. That's just so sad to say right now, because I put more time and effort into trying to master that pursuit than my own profession ... which was my livelihood ... which put food on the table for my family.\" -- Eagles quarterback Michael Vick, per \"Finally Free,\" an autobiography that will be released Sept. 4
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