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Mike Zimmer on free agent DE Everson Griffen: "I'd love to have him back"

NFL: Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings
Dec 30, 2018; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen (97) during a game between the Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

When Everson Griffen voided the final three years of his contract with the Vikings in February, it appeared the defensive end’s time with the team was finished and it was expected he would sign a free agent deal elsewhere.

Only that has not happened.

The coronavirus pandemic ended up impacting free agency in a big way and several productive players remain on the market. That includes the 32-year-old Griffen, who was a fourth-round pick of the Vikings in 2010 and has 74.5 sacks in 10 seasons. So is there a chance that Griffen could end up back with the Vikings? Coach Mike Zimmer, who helped Griffen develop into a standout defensive end, did not close the door on that happening when asked Saturday.

“I don’t know,” Zimmer said. “I know that he texted me the other day telling me congratulations (on Zimmer’s contract extension) and things like that. I’d love to have him back. He’s always been one of my guys, so if that happens that’d be great. I don’t know where that’s at right now.’’

The Vikings two starting defensive ends — Griffen and Danielle Hunter — combined for 22.5 sacks last season, with Griffen getting eight of them. The Vikings are expected to give Ifeadi Odenigbo a chance to replace Griffen at right end. Odenigbo, a seventh-round pick out of Northwestern in 2017, had seven sacks last season.

The Vikings’ rookies and quarterbacks reported to training camp on Thursday in Eagan and the full squad is due to report on Tuesday.