Vikings put franchise tag on Chad Greenway, who could get about $10M
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The Minnesota Vikings aren't taking any chances when it comes to Chad Greenway's future.
The team announced on Monday the franchise tag has been placed on Greenway, the 28-year-old outside linebacker who is coming off the best of his five NFL seasons.
"Chad's an important part of our team and his play speaks for itself," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said in a statement. "He's productive and has continued to improve each year he has been in the NFL. He's a leader for us in the locker room and on the field."
Greenway was one of two obvious candidates for the tag, along with receiver Sidney Rice, another of the 22 unsigned players who finished 2010 on the active roster or injured reserve.
The Vikings are believed to be interested in working out a long-term deal with Greenway and would like to retain Rice, too, but they're waiting until the NFL's complicated labor situation is settled.
Assuming the rules of the franchise tag remain the same under the next collective-bargaining agreement -- the NFL players' association has questioned the validity of the tags without a new CBA in place -- Greenway would receive a one-year contract worth the average compensation of the five highest-paid linebackers last season.
In 2010, the franchise number for linebackers was $9.68 million -- more than triple Greenway's $3.17 million base salary last season.
A first-round pick (17th overall) out of Iowa in 2006, Greenway received a $1.035 million roster roster bonus and a $5.11 million option bonus on his five-year rookie contract. He unlocked $1.875 million in escalators that more than doubled his final-year base salary and arguably was the Vikings' most consistent player last season, earning team defensive MVP honors.
The nonexclusive franchise tag carries with it compensation of two first-round picks if another team signs Greenway to an offer sheet and the Vikings opt not to match. However, that rarely happens, and the Vikings have no intention of trading Greenway, as the Kansas City Chiefs did after tagging Jared Allen in 2008.
Teams also have been told they can use the transition tag, which is carries with it only right of first refusal. It would cost the Vikings the average of the top 10 receivers' compensation -- last year, $8.651 million -- to use that tag on Rice.
However, ProFootballTalk.com reported the Vikings can't use the extra transition tag on Rice, because he only has four years of service, rather than six. There also is a chance the Vikings could apply a restricted tender to him if the next CBA raises the eligibility for unrestricted free agency from four years to five or six.
The deadline for using all tags is Thursday.