One of the most interesting free agents on the Minnesota Vikings roster this offseason is veteran linebacker Chad Greenway. Last offseason there was a lot of speculation that he would call it quits after the 2015 season. It marked the decade mark of his career, which could be considered a natural ending to a solid career.
After the Vikings’ playoff loss, however, Greenway announced that he was going to play another year in the NFL. He said that he would prefer to remain with the Vikings but that he would play elsewhere if the two sides could not come to a new contract agreement.
The stats: Last season Greenway played in all 16 regular-season games and the team’s one playoff game. He recorded 68 tackles, 2½ sacks, one interception – which he returned for a 91-yard touchdown – and a pass deflection.
He played in just 58.71 percent of the team’s defensive snaps in 2015, a decreased role from what he has played throughout the rest of his career. With all starters healthy, Greenway’s role was limited to playing in the base defense, while Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr were the two selected to play in the nickel.
Contract considerations: Last offseason Greenway restructured the final year of his contract, taking a $3 million pay cut. In the final year of his deal he made $4 million, with $1 million guaranteed.
With his decreased role in the defense, and with important contracts coming up in the next few seasons, it is not likely Greenway will see top dollars offered to him. It is also very likely that he will be offered a one-year contract.
When looking at veteran linebackers similar to Greenway, one can get an idea about what kind of dollar amount the veteran could expect to be offered.
In 2014, the New York Jets re-signed Calvin Pace to a two-year deal worth $4.75 million ($2.375 million per season) with $1 million guaranteed. In the season before he signed the contract, Pace was 33 years old and recorded 53 tackles, 10 sacks, two forced fumbles and three pass deflections in the team’s 16 regular season games.
Another player with similar production to Greenway is Justin Durant of the Atlanta Falcons. Last season the 30-year-old linebacker signed a three-year deal worth $10.8 million ($3.6 million/season) with $1.25 guaranteed. Durant struggled in 2013 and 2014 while with the Dallas Cowboys, but in 2012 he recorded 103 tackles, half a sack and three pass deflections while with the Detroit Lions.
These are two players close to Greenway in age, production and snap count, so their contracts are ones that make sense to look at when the Vikings consider Greenway. There are a couple other things to look at, however.
Other considerations: It is important to remember that Greenway’s snap count was inflated some because of injuries to Barr and Kendricks. If it were not for those injuries, then Greenway’s snap count would have been much lower than it was.
Another thing to remember is that Greenway has meant a lot to not only the team throughout his career but the Vikings community as well. He has been the team’s representative for the Walter Peyton Man of the Year award the past two seasons.
While Greenway may not receive the $4 million he got last season he will likely get somewhere north of half of that. He won’t be getting the long-term deal he would have gotten if he were younger, but both he and the Vikings will more than likely come to terms with a deal that keeps him around for another season.