The Vikings and Chad Greenway announced Monday that the 34-year-old linebacker is retiring. He’ll have his farewell news conference Tuesday, the day NFL teams can begin negotiating with outside free agents — a list that includes running back Adrian Peterson.
Greenway’s retirement and Peterson’s free agency were both expected. But the timing of the moves shines a light on this reality: we are nearing the end of an era of a Vikings era.
The Vikings drafted 32 players from 2006-2010, the five seasons Brad Childress coached here. Greenway was the very first pick of the Childress era, chosen in the first round (No. 17 overall) in 2006. He tore his ACL that preseason but went on to play the next 10 years with the Vikings. Peterson was the No. 1 pick the next season, 2007.
Assuming Peterson signs elsewhere this offseason — not a given, but certainly a good possibility — there will be just two players left on the Vikings who were drafted during Childress’ time here: Brian Robison in 2007 (fourth round) and Everson Griffen in 2010 (also in the fourth round).
Many of those players are long gone. But in addition to Greenway and Peterson, offensive linemen John Sullivan (2008) and Phil Loadholt (2009) were dispatched within the past year.
This sort of roster turnover is hardly uncommon in the NFL given how short the average career is in the league. And this team in recent years has clearly become one with Mike Zimmer’s imprint thanks to an influx of young, high-quality defensive players.
Still, potentially losing in the same week two players who spent a decade in purple is a milestone worth noting.