Sunday, July 5, 2015

chad greenway

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Image courtesy of Youtube.com

Chad Greenway is back, but that doesn’t guarantee the Vikings’ veteran linebacker a starting spot once the regular season begins. For 9 years, he’s made a living as Minnesota’s weak side linebacker, leading the team both on the field and in the locker room.

But, recent injuries and the emergence of players like Gerald Hodges sapped Greenway’s time in the starting lineup — he played just 12 games in 2014, recording a career-low 93 tackles. When the 2015 NFL Draft kicks off on April 30th, expect Rick Spielman to add a player late in the draft, one who could eventually compete to replace Greenway.

As Ryan Boser wrote in his guest post for Vikings Territory, Spielman used all five of his 2014 Round 6 and Round 7 picks on defensive players. This year, he holds two picks in the final round — surely, Spielman will stick to his preferences and add depth to Mike Zimmer’s unit.

If Spielman holds true to his draft tendencies, he’ll use of one those picks on a player like Bowling Green’s Gabe Martin.

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Chad Greenway and the Minnesota Vikings will continue their 9-year relationship in 2015, as the former Iowa Hawkeye restructured his contract to remain with the team next season. Whether you support the move or regret the decision, Greenway will play some role on Mike Zimmer’s defense when September comes around.

Last year, Greenway battled through injuries, finishing a disappointing 12-game season with a career-low 93 tackles and 1 sack. He disappeared in the run game and consistently missed assignments in coverage (remember the Buffalo game, anyone?) Still, Greenway has been a staple in Minnesota, leading the team in tackles from 2008 to 2013 and missing just 4 games due to injury throughout his lengthy career.

In a Monday interview with our favorite team reporter (love you, Wobby), Greenway expressed his gratitude in returning to the Vikings:

“My number one goal is really being able to finish my career a Minnesota Viking and remain loyal to the place that’s been loyal to me […] It’s been an honor, and I definitely want to go out on top, being a Minnesota Viking and winning a lot of football games this year. We do have a young crew, a young linebacking crew with a lot of talent and need some direction, and I’m definitely happy to help with that.”

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Division I linebackers like UCLA’s Eric Kendricks and TCU’s Paul Dawson will dominate the early draft-day conversations, but teams shouldn’t sleep on the later rounds’ small-school prospects. One in particular, Newberry’s Edmond Robinson, could be a potential steal for the Minnesota Vikings near the end of the 2015 NFL Draft.

Newberry, a Division II school in South Carolina, hasn’t seen a player drafted since 1974, when the Cardinals selected linebacker Greg Hartle in the 10th round. Currently, three former Wolves are on an NFL roster, including the Vikings’ Brandon Bostick. Robinson played with Bostick at Newberry, and spoke about the advice he’s received from his former teammates:

“They’ve been great about giving me advice and telling me how to approach certain situations. They all said that if they can make it, I can too.”

Robinson was just one of two Division II players to participate in last month’s NFL Scouting Combine, and used the week in Indianapolis to boost his draft stock.

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Very few things are guaranteed in the NFL, and it is still not a certainty that Chad Greenway will be on Minnesota’s opening day roster, but it became a lot more likely this weekend with news breaking that he has agreed to a considerable pay cut.

According to Aaron Wilson of National Football Post, Greenway’s new deal makes him an unrestricted free agent after this season and drops his salary from $7 million to $3.4 million. His 2015 cap hit goes from $8.8 million down to $5.575 million, giving the Vikings a little more flexibility when it comes to negotiating with potential free agent signings or their own players needing extensions.

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For the Chad Greenway fans out there (myself included), you’ll be happy to see this tweet by USA Today’s Tom Pelissero:

Greenway has been one of those question marks as the Vikings have entered free agency, mostly because his contract takes up a good-sized chunk of Minnesota’s cap space.

In his tenth NFL year, he would count $8.8 million against Minnesota’s salary cap; if released, he would count a much smaller number ($1.7 million) against the cap. Last season Greenway willingly took a pay cut, restructuring his contract to stay in Minny, and it seems he is willing to do the same again.

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