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Updated: September 5th, 2011 12:49pm
Chad Greenway signs 5-year deal: 'I'm extremely excited to be here'

Chad Greenway signs 5-year deal: 'I'm extremely excited to be here'

by Judd Zulgad and Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The Minnesota Vikings no longer have to worry about losing Chad Greenway as a free agent after this season.

The standout linebacker signed a five-year contract extension on Monday.

Coach Leslie Frazier announced the agreement after Monday's practice, but Greenway said the deal actually was done a few days ago. The team was given the weekend off after hosting Houston on Thursday in its preseason finale.

"This is a top-notch organization," Greenway said. "I'm extremely excited to be here for another five years."

Greenway's new contract will begin with this season and erase the one-year, $10.091 deal he was due to receive after being given the franchise tag by the Vikings last winter. The Pioneer Press reported the new pact is worth $41 million, including $20 million guaranteed.

Greenway, 28, is the 10th of 14 franchise players around the NFL to get a long-term deal.

It was key the Vikings got that tag off of Greenway before Sept. 20, because after that date, a long-term agreement could not have been worked out until the season was completed.

"Chad has been an instrumental part of our success during his career, and he's a guy who has improved every year he's been a part of our defense," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. "So, excited that that contract is behind him, and now he'll be able to focus on the task at hand, and that's going on and helping us to have a great season as a football team. So, very, very thankful that we know that he's going to be here for a while."

'It just continually gained steam'

Talks between the Vikings and Greenway's agent, Marvin Demoff, had been ongoing for several weeks. Frazier expressed optimism about the situation early in training camp, but it was believed there was a difference of opinion about compensation.

Greenway said the fact both sides wanted to get a deal completed made it a lot easier to work through the situation.

"It just continually gained steam," he said. "It wasn't like overnight something clicked. It was just sort of constantly working through it and honing the thing out."

The Vikings' starting strongside linebacker, Greenway was named the team's defensive MVP last season after leading the club with 149 tackles and 10 tackles for a loss. Greenway missed his entire rookie season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the preseason, but he has not missed a game since.

"Chad is one of those guys who's really on the come from a leadership standpoint and as a playmaker," Frazier said. "You really want to get those guys in the fold. He's one of those guys, if he gets on the market, it's going to be tough to keep him as a Minnesota Viking.

"So, I think what we have been able to accomplish is a part of maintaining, hopefully, a good defense for years to come. We've been a top-10 defense the last three years. So, we want to keep trying to rise, and Chad is instrumental to our future success as a defensive football team and as a team, because he's a tremendous leader as well."

The Vikings likely would have tried to get Greenway locked up long-term last season. But with the rules having changed in the final year of the collective bargaining agreement and all of the uncertainty surrounding the league, team executives took a wait-and-see approach.

However, their desire to keep Greenway became clear when he was given the franchise tag.

"The best thing was I knew then that they were going to try to secure something long-term, and so my future was a lot closer to being set to being a Viking," Greenway said of getting the franchise designation. "That was the first step to this sort of happening, and now it's over with, which is the best part, and now we can just go play football."

Asked if he was ever nervous about the situation, Greenway said: "I don't know. I'm sure that happened in each other's rooms, but for me, it was just about going out and trying to work. I knew I was here for one more year, and I wasn't too concerned about how that was all going to turn out. I just didn't want to think about it. So, I just wanted to go out and prepare for the season as best I could."

Peterson next?

With Greenway's contract done, the Vikings now can turn their attention to running back Adrian Peterson, who is in the last year of his rookie deal and due to make $10.72 million this season.

The Vikings and Peterson were given a pretty good starting point for serious negotations on Thursday, when the Tennessee Titans and running back Chris Johnson reached agreement on a four-year, $53.5 million deal that includes $30 million guaranteed.

"I know that is something that's being discussed, and hopefully, something will be done at some point," Frazier said when asked about Peterson's contract. "But we've got some people that are handling that as well. I'm sure Rob Brzezinski (the Vikings' vice president of football operations) and our staff will do a good job bringing that to closure at some point."

If a deal isn't done with Peterson, the Vikings almost certainly would use the franchise tag on him after the 2011 season.

By getting Greenway's contract completed, the Vikings help themselves by creating salary cap space and taking that one-year, $10.091 agreement off the books.

"I think the next level for us is just restoring what we have here in 2009 -- that confidence and swagger that we can get back to the playoffs, even though we play in a really tough division," said Greenway, taken with the 17th pick in the first round of the 2006 draft out of Iowa.

"Personally, just go out there and continue to be a consistent linebacker who goes out and gives it to you every week. Obviously, the big plays need to come and be a big part of this defense winning games."

The Vikings also cleared up some salary-cap room by restructuring the contract of wide receiver Greg Camarillo. Camarillo was due to make $1.7 million this season but took a pay cut that will put his salary below $1 million in what is the last year of his deal.

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Tom | @TomPelissero | Tom Pelissero
Judd Zulgad is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays and "Saturday Morning SportsTalk" from 10 a.m. to noon on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Judd | @1500ESPNJudd | Mackey & Judd
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