INDIANAPOLIS – While Mike Zimmer anticipates turnover on the Vikings defense this offseason, one position he expects unchanged is defensive end Everson Griffen in the starting lineup.
Griffen, 32, is set to become an unrestricted free agent March 18 after voiding the remainder of his contract this month. But after the Vikings met this week with Griffen's agent, Brian Murphy, during the scouting combine in Indianapolis, Zimmer said a re-signing is likely on the horizon for the 11th-year team captain.
"Everson's a terrific person for us," Zimmer said Wednesday. "Our situation is the right one for him, and we expect him to be back. I think he wants to be back, so those kinds of things usually work their way out."
Griffen returned to form last season at right defensive end, from where he ranked 14th among NFL edge rushers with 66 quarterback pressures (eight sacks), according to Pro Football Focus. He was named to his fourth Pro Bowl -- second as an alternate -- a year after missing five starts to address his mental health.
One change appearing imminent is safety Anthony Harris' exit in free agency. Harris, 28, is positioned nicely for a lucrative contract on the open market after tying the NFL lead with six interceptions during the regular season. A handful of Vikings safeties have started alongside Harrison Smith during Zimmer's tenure, and another change could be on the way since Harris could cost a premium to keep.
"I love Anthony," Zimmer said. "If he doesn't come back, I think he's earned everything he's got, but if you put up the positions important on defense, it's probably not going to be safety."
Zimmer also echoed sentiments from General Manager Rick Spielman this week when saying he doesn't envision a trade dealing away receiver Stefon Diggs, who was fined $200,000 last season for conduct detrimental to the team after unexcused absences from practice and meetings.
"Since that little deal early in the season, he's been great," Zimmer said. "I don't see it happening."
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