MINNEAPOLIS — When Chad Greenway accepted his nomination by the Vikings for the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year, his coach, Mike Zimmer, heaped some noteworthy praise on the veteran linebacker.
“That guy right there is a tremendous guy – great person, great individual, great teammate, good captain,” Zimmer said on Dec. 2. “I wish I would have had him 10 years ago, or however many years he’s been in the league, he’s my kind of guy.”
Well, Chad sounds like he wants at least one more season.
Greenway, 32, capped his 10th NFL season, all in Minnesota, in Sunday’s first-round playoff exit to the Seattle Seahawks. As the veteran of a very young linebacker group, Greenway played above and beyond what the coaching staff expected of him this season. He retook a third-down role when injuries held back Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks, finishing third on the team with 69 combined tackles on 641 snaps.
His contract expires in March.
“I haven’t really thought about it,” Greenway said from his TCF Bank Stadium locker on Sunday. “We’ve been on such a groove this season. It’s just been a lot of fun with this football team and seeing how things have gone throughout the course of the year. It’s been such a privilege and honor to play on this team, specifically.
“That’s a decision that’s going to have to come. I’m going to play football. I got to play one more year. It can’t, it just can’t seem to end like this. It’s a hard one.”
One of the biggest keys to Greenway’s 2015 season was remaining healthy, something that escaped him in consecutive seasons before this year. He’d suffered and played through a fractured wrist, broken hand, three broken ribs and a sprained medial collateral ligament in his knee during the 2013 and 2014 seasons.
The injuries may have led to disappointing play, and pay cuts in consecutive offseasons as his cap hit rose on a five-year, $41 million extension signed at the start of the 2011 season. The second pay cut alone gave the Vikings $3.2 million in cap space last spring.
“Who knows what’s going to happen,” Greenway said. “Obviously, there’s offseason decisions. It just doesn’t seem, the immediacy with how this ends right now. Like I said earlier, it doesn’t feel like we should be the football team going home right now. That’s hard.
“There’s enough football left in me to play another season to try to go out differently.”