<
>

Vikings free agents: Chad Greenway looks to return for one more year

Every day we'll take a look at one of the Minnesota Vikings heading for free agency, what he has meant to the team before and a prognosis on whether he’ll be back with the club in 2016. You can find the entire series here:

Free agent to be: Chad Greenway

Position: Linebacker

Age: 33

Years in the league: 10

What he made last season: $5,575,000 (cap number); $4,000,000 (cash value)

What he did last season: Greenway transitioned into a two-down role, playing weakside linebacker in the base defense and coming out in passing situations. But he still made 69 tackles, played his first career game at middle linebacker while filling in for an injured Eric Kendricks in November, and brought an interception back 91 yards for a touchdown against San Diego, with his grandfather in attendance for the first time in Greenway's career. The veteran linebacker's leadership was a key component for the league's sixth-ranked scoring defense, and as coach Mike Zimmer put it in his season-ending news conference, Greenway is "always going to be one of my kind of guys."

His potential market value: Considering Greenway only played 57.7 percent of the Vikings' snaps -- after serving as a three-down linebacker for years -- he's likely to get a more modest salary in 2016. He agreed to cut his salary after a protracted set of negotiations with the Vikings last year, and wants to return to the team for an 11th season. That gives the Vikings some leverage, especially since Greenway figures to find mostly part-time roles on the open market. Still, the veteran's work ethic and locker room presence could bring value to a young team if he can't work out a deal with the Vikings.

Will he still fit the Vikings? Yes; Zimmer is on record as saying he hopes Greenway is back next season, and if the Vikings are using him mostly in a two-down role, it's not as though he'd be taking a premium spot on the defense away from a young player. The Vikings probably need to address their linebacker depth after trading Gerald Hodges, especially considering Audie Cole will also be a free agent, but bringing Greenway back on a modest deal could make sense, especially given his value to a young defense.

What happens: Greenway and the Vikings continue their long-running relationship for another season on a one-year deal; call it $2-2.5 million or so, perhaps with another roster bonus tied to the number of games Greenway is on the active roster.