INDIANAPOLIS — Coach Mike Zimmer said this morning that he expects free-agent outside linebacker Chad Greenway, who has spent the past decade playing for the Vikings, back in purple for at least one more season.
“I think he will be back, yeah,” Zimmer said. “I think he wants to be back and I think we’d like to have him back. But you never know.”
Zimmer, who met with a small group of local reporters here at the scouting combine, said whether Greenway will be back “all comes down to money.” But the 33-year-old likely isn’t asking the Vikings to break the bank.
Greenway, who agreed to pay cuts the past two offseasons to remain on the roster, was the team’s third linebacker in 2015. But injuries to Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks led to Greenway playing about 60 percent of the defensive snaps. He started 12 games and recorded 68 tackles.
“Chad was very valuable for us this year in the fact that he was going to be basically a part-time starter, playing a third of the game,” Zimmer said. “Then a couple guys got hurt and he got more snaps. Chad’s valuable in a lot of different ways and it’s not just on the field. I do think he can still play.”
Zimmer wouldn’t say whether he sees Greenway as a starter or role player.
“You’re always trying to find younger and better,” Zimmer said. “But I think Chad is valuable for our football team and whether or not that’s as a starter or part-time starter, we’ll just have to let that all play out.”
Zimmer also said that he could see cornerback Terence Newman, another veteran free agent, back with the Vikings. Newman will turn 38 in September, but Zimmer has heard “from a couple of sources” that Newman, who started every game for the Vikings last season, wants to play.
Like he did with Greenway, Zimmer praised Newman for his leadership. But speaking generally, he said the value of leadership has its limits and that veterans will only be kept around if they can still contribute on the field.
“We don’t want to have anybody that can’t play,” Zimmer said. “If they can’t play, they can’t be here. I’ll make them a coach.”