Cowboys trade DE Griffen to Lions, sources say

  • Previously covered University of Michigan for ESPN.com and AnnArbor.com
  • Also covered Notre Dame for Fort Wayne Journal Gazette

The Detroit Lions are acquiring defensive end Everson Griffen from Dallas for a 2021 conditional sixth round pick, multiple sources told ESPN, giving the Lions another pass-rushing option and shoring up one of the biggest holes in their defense.

The pick could become a fifth-round pick depending on various conditions, a source told ESPN’s Todd Archer. Dallas had made Griffen available for a possible trade for a couple of weeks, according to Archer. This allows Dallas to free up cap space — the remaining part of his $6 million contract for this season will be picked up by Detroit — and allows for the Cowboys to find playing time for Randy Gregory.

The 32-year-old Griffen was in his first season in Dallas after playing 10 seasons with Minnesota and becoming one of the NFL’s better pass rushers. In seven games this season with the Cowboys, Griffen has 20 tackles and 2.5 sacks. In his career, he has 355 tackles and 77 sacks.

In Minnesota, Griffen was a dominant force very familiar with the team he’s now going to play for. In 19 games against Detroit, Griffen has had 16 sacks and had at least one sack in his last six games against the Lions — including all four games he faced his new head coach, Matt Patricia.

Due to COVID-19 regulations, Griffen’s first game for Detroit will be Nov. 8 when the Lions play in Minnesota.

The Lions desperately need help with their pass rush to go along with Trey Flowers and Romeo Okwara on the edge. Flowers and Okwara have six of Detroit’s eight sacks this season — a total good for No. 28 in the NFL — and the Lions have only sacked quarterbacks on 3.8 percent of their passing attempts this season.

Griffen should be able to help Detroit both with its pressure on the quarterback and also converting sacks. He’s had 5.5 or more sacks every season since 2012.

Lions defensive coordinator Cory Undlin was in the middle of his weekly news conference when the trade for Griffen broke on Twitter.

“Breaking news to me. Appreciate the heads up on that,” Undlin said. “Probably go back to the staff room and see what we got on the board there. We’ll take a look at it. I’m not going to really comment on it. Obviously, you just told me.

“I knew there was obviously some stuff going on, had no idea until you just told me. But we’ll be excited, just like we do when any new player comes in here. We’ll welcome him with open arms and then see what we can do and put him in the best position to help all of us, not just us on defense but everybody.”

This is the fourth major move the Lions have made around the trade deadline in the past two-plus seasons. In 2018, the Lions acquired Damon Harrison from the Giants to shore up their run defense and traded receiver Golden Tate, in the final year of his contract, to Philadelphia. Last season, Detroit traded starting safety Quandre Diggs to Seattle.

ESPN’s Todd Archer contributed to this report.

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