Pat Williams is one of 17 Vikings players with four or more years of experience on the roster who stand to become unrestricted free agents this offseason, depending on what happens with the collective bargaining agreement.
Williams' 14 years of service means he's assured of being able to explore the market, and given the Vikings' situation it sounds as if the nose tackle might want to exam his options. "They're going to be rebuilding around here, it's going to be kind of rough," Williams said on Thursday. "They've got about 20 free agents on this team. It will be real rough."
Obviously, Williams' time in the NFL is winding down and he would like a situation where he has a shot to win a Super Bowl. Williams' disappointment was such after the Vikings' overtime loss to New Orleans in the NFC title game last season that he talked about retiring. He now says that came from the stress of the situation, adding, "We had a chance to go to the Super Bowl. That's what every old school player wants."
What does Williams want now? "If I don't come back here I want to try to go to a team that's already set," he said. "Try to go to a team that's already got enough. ... I'm going to see [about all that] at the end of the year. Talk to my agent, see what he says. Just figure it out. I want to win, that's my main focus."
Williams, who at 38 has become more of a situational player, said the Vikings have not approached him but that's not surprising considering the team has been holding off on doing almost all deals until the new CBA is worked out. Williams said no matter what happens he will maintain a home in Minnesota because he has a son in school here. He also has a home in Louisiana.
Greenway 'disappointed' to be left off Pro Bowl roster
Linebacker Chad Greenway leads the Vikings with 141 tackles and 10 tackles for loss but that wasn't good enough to earn him a spot on the NFC Pro Bowl roster. A year after the Vikings put 10 players in the Pro Bowl, running back Adrian Peterson was the only Viking selected to the Jan. 30 all-star game in Honolulu.
"I wanted to make it and was disappointed as anybody because of the amount of work that's gone into it," Greenway said, "but everybody that's going deserves it and you can't fault those guys for being selected. They are good players and make a lot of plays."
The three outside linebackers named to the NFC roster were Green Bay's Clay Matthews, Dallas' DeMarcus Ware and Chicago's Lance Briggs.
Greenway said he has not found out yet if he is one of the alternates -- alternates are named in case the selected players don't go -- but he made it clear he would welcome the chance to play in the game if someone else has to miss it.
"No question about it," Greenway said. "The reason it would be exciting to me if I got to make it for any reason other than being on the first ballot is I know those guys are good players. Just because I didn't get mentioned as Pro Bowl [player] or go to the Pro Bowl doesn't mean I didn't have a good year or am not a good player. You can't let those sort of things -- and I hope you guys don't either -- make people buy into that's the mark of a good player. Obviously, a lot of things go into that. Having said that [the Pro Bowl selections] all deserve it, but if I was going to make it you take it anyway you can get it."
Despite the Vikings drop from a 12-4 season in 2009 to 6-9 this season with one game left, Greenway admitted he was surprised that only one player from his team made it through a voting process that is split into thirds between fans, coaches and players.
"Different set of circumstances, different year, different win total, that's the biggest thing," Greenway said. "We have a lot of good players and obviously there have been guys who have been there multiple, multiple times who aren't going for the first time in a while. So they have to find another place to go for vacation. That's the hardest thing to do, right?"
Keeping his focus
Greenway will complete his fifth season on Sunday and with his contract expiring there is a good chance he will find himself an unrestricted free agent once the CBA is settled. One would expect the Vikings will place a high priority on retaining Greenway, but so far there has been no activity.
"My focus right now is this last game," Greenway said. "Obviously, this is where my focus needs to be and it's going to be a short week and a lot of things going into it. A lot of different people that it's an important game for. Really everybody, myself included. Just go out there and play as hard as you can. When we get to that point [that he's a free agent], if that's what happens, then you just hope there's a couple of teams that will take you. Otherwise you go back to farming."
Asked if he had gotten a feeling from the Vikings about which way things might go, Greenway said: "I haven't looked for a feeling to be honest with you. I just know this year is a big year personally and team-success wise. Once you get sort of midway through you sort of reassess things. But the way I look at it, even with one game remaining my mind is still focused on what I need to do to help the team win. ... All I can do is let things take care of themselves because I can't do much else about it. I'm not going to get into this or that. It is what it is. It's been stated before, I like it here, but I can't control anything."