The 2017 Vikings roster could be similar to last season’s, but it also could see two huge changes as the team decides about the two longest-tenured players in linebacker Chad Greenway and running back Adrian Peterson. Greenway just completed his 11th season with the Vikings and Peterson his 10th.
Greenway, who played mostly on first and second down in running situations, went through the bulk of last season believing this would be his final year in the NFL, but he was asked this week if there’s been any change in his thinking.
“We’ve taken some time here, a few weeks away from the season, and we’re visiting family,” Greenway said. “We’re actually right now in Illinois, visiting my wife’s family. It’s always good to take this time because it gives you a little bit of perspective on what’s coming for our family and what’s going to be next. We’re taking this time. I haven’t had a chance to get in and meet with Rick [Spielman, Vikings general manager] and Coach [Mike] Zimmer yet. I’m going to do that [this] week, and we’ll have a better idea of what we’re going to do.”
One thing is certain: Greenway said he would play only in Minnesota.
“No, I wouldn’t plan on playing anywhere else,” he said. “At this point it’s really just weighing my options. If playing in Minnesota for another year is an option — and pretty much all season, I’ve felt like this is going to be my last year — and now I’m just trying to make sure that decision is the one I want to make. I’ve lived every day like I wanted to, like it could be my last game in the NFL, and I enjoyed the season. Now I can take some time and think about it, and we’ll come to a decision real soon.”
When it comes to Peterson future with the team, Greenway said he thinks the decision will be more about money and contract length than Peterson’s health. The running back missed most of the season because of a knee injury.
“That’s a question that everybody has on their mind. My opinion, and I’m guessing, is he wouldn’t be back,” Greenway said. “That’s just basing it off contract numbers. But I’m sure the folks in the organization want Adrian to retire a Viking, I’m sure they want him to finish here. But that’s going to come up to those two sides coming together and making a decision and making an agreement on something that makes sense for the club and makes sense for Adrian.
“I’m not sure if they can get that done, and that’s obviously up to Rick and Coach to figure that out. But obviously I think we all want him to finish as a Viking, I think that would just make sense for him and his career. Whether that makes sense for him or not, that’s yet to be determined.”
Greenway said he and Peterson have had discussions about the future.
“I have really as good of a relationship with Adrian as anybody, just based on how long I’ve been a teammate of his, the last decade,” Greenway said. “I have had conversations with him, and he would love to be a Viking and finish his career here. And I think that’s something he’s motivated to do. I think the club is motivated to get something done. Obviously a lot of factors weigh in on that, but we’ll see what happens.”
Close to contending
While Greenway doesn’t yet know if he’ll be with the Vikings next season, he said he believes the team is close to being a contender.
“I don’t think it’s a big change,” he said. “Everyone saw us be 5-0, be the team we thought we could be, and then after that we kind of lost our way of winning games. We were winning and there was a method to our madness early on. We weren’t turning the ball over, we were running the ball effectively though obviously not great, we were throwing the ball and protecting the quarterback.
“After that, we found a way to not do that and not do those things. I think it’s about being who we are and playing great in those critical times of the game that we have to make plays to win. We didn’t do that enough — the Detroit game comes to mind and the Dallas game comes to mind, where we left it on the table. You can’t do that in the NFL.”
Yes, hopefully Greenway and the Vikings find a way for him to play another season. But if he doesn’t, he will leave the team as one of the greatest linebackers in their history.
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• All the talk about new Gophers football coach P.J. Fleck getting a number of players he recruited to Western Michigan to flip to Minnesota reminded me of how Lou Holtz got several Gophers recruits to follow him when he left Minnesota for Notre Dame in 1986. One of them was quarterback Tony Rice, who went on to win the 1988 national championship with Holtz and played professionally in the CFL and World League of American Football. … Las Vegas bookmakers have opened with the Gophers at 250-1 long shots to win the CFP national championship next season, putting them on par with teams such as Houston, California, BYU and Northwestern.
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• Mario Lucia, son of Gophers hockey coach Don Lucia, is doing a good job for the Iowa Wild farm club in Des Moines with five goals and 10 assists in 31 games. And speaking of Don: Where are all those fans who wanted him fired now that the Gophers are 13-5-2 and ranked No. 7 in the country? ... Mathew Robson, a Gophers hockey recruit from Toronto, leads the BCHL with a 2.01 goals-against average along with a 26-9-0 record and a .924 save percentage.
• Former Gophers defensive coordinator Jay Sawvel was credited with taking a lot of under-recruited defensive backs, such as Eric Murray, and turning them into NFL draft picks. Now he has been hired as defensive coordinator at Wake Forest. … Speaking of Murray, Pro Football Focus recently named him an All-Pro on special teams. Murray, a fourth-round draft pick in 2016, played in all 16 regular-season games for the Chiefs and had a fumble recovery.
Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM at 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. firstname.lastname@example.org