The Vikings have done a good job of getting younger since the 2010 season, which was their final season with Brett Favre. That team went 6-10 and fired coach Brad Childress, and after that the Vikings stated they wanted to move away from some of the veterans who had played for a Super Bowl berth the previous season.
In 2010 their average age was 27.6, and in 2011 that dropped to 26.70, 10th-youngest in the NFL. In 2012 they were fourth at 25.64; in 2013 they were 13th at 25.96; and last year they were the fifth-youngest team at 25.58 years.
That’s an average age of 26.0 on the 53-man roster and an average ranking of being the eighth-youngest team in the NFL over the past four seasons.
But there’s no question that Vikings players want the team to keep one key veteran player in 2015: linebacker Chad Greenway.
General Manager Rick Spielman and coach Mike Zimmer will have a big decision on whether to keep Greenway, who has a $7 million option for next season and just turned 32 on Monday. They might be considering whether Audie Cole, a 2012 seventh-round pick who had 17 tackles playing for an injured Greenway in the Vikings’ season-ending victory over Chicago, can replace Greenway at a much lower cost.
Greenway missed four games in 2014, the first games he has missed since his entire rookie season was wiped out by a torn knee ligament, but he still finished second on the team in tackles with 93 and is unquestionably one of the team’s leaders.
The 2006 first-round draft pick out of Iowa was asked if he wants to play next year and for how much longer after that.
“I think talking to my family and knowing my kids and what everybody wants, I think I definitely want to play one more year and take it to 10 years,” he said.
Greenway added later, “If I don’t get signed in Minnesota, then I’m definitely interested in playing somewhere else, if that’s what has to happen.”
Greenway took a pay cut last season in order to give the Vikings $1 million in cap space, but it doesn’t sound like he wants to do that again this year.
“I’ve had good discussions with Rick Spielman and [Executive Vice President] Rob Brzezinski and the Vikings management [about coming back],” Greenway said. “It gets to a point where it’s a personal thing between us because we have worked together for so long. There isn’t any animosity. Obviously you don’t want to take a step back in your career, but at the same time you understand that the NFL is a tough business, and you can’t do the things you could do when you were 24, 25 years old.
“I still think I bring a ton of value to our organization, not only as a player but as a person, and a guy that can really be a leader within the team. I’m going to play one more year, and hopefully it’s in Minnesota. That is definitely my goal, that has been my goal since Day 1, to finish here.”
Though Greenway dealt with injuries and had the fewest tackles in his career, he said he still thinks he played well.
“That was the first time in I think seven years that I hadn’t [led the team in tackles],” said Greenway, who tried to play with three broken ribs and a broken hand but had to be taken out in the first quarter of the team’s Week 3 game in New Orleans.
Losing takes a toll
Greenway has made the playoffs three times in his nine-year Vikings career, but the past two seasons have been losing ones.
“From the team standpoint,  was certainly frustrating with the way the team went, and the way the year unfolded was a tough year,” he said. “We had five wins, and the way we lost games was frustrating.”
He believes 2014 was much improved and that the Vikings can be even better next season, and he was really impressed with the performance of Teddy Bridgewater as a rookie quarterback.
“He does everything the right way, he works hard, he doesn’t misspeak, doesn’t say crazy things,” he said. “He just goes about his business and his teammates respect him, we all do, just by the way he carries himself.”
Well, I believe the Vikings would be making a mistake if they decided to cut Greenway. This team needs more players like him on and off the field.
Gophers football valued
The Wall Street Journal ran an article last week breaking down the potential monetary value of college football teams, as if they were professional sports teams. The article looked at program revenue and expenses, then made cash-flow adjustments, risk assessments and growth projections for each school.
The Gophers ended up ranked 38th in the nation with an estimated value of $202.4 million. These kind of low valuations are one reason that the Gophers have had trouble hiring major sports coaches.
Their ranking was good for eighth in the 14-team Big Ten. Ohio State ranked first overall with a value of $1.1 billion, while Wisconsin was 16th at $415.9 million and Iowa 12th at $491.3 million.
• The Gophers lost their first five Big Ten games by an average of five points, and in those games Andre Hollins scored 9.2 points per game. Saturday, Hollins scored 31 points on 11-for-18 shooting in a 89-80 victory over Rutgers, proving again that as Hollins goes, so go the Gophers. The Gophers’ next five games — at Nebraska, Illinois at home, at Penn State, Nebraska at home and Purdue at home — are all winnable. If Hollins can keep it going, maybe the Gophers can still turn this season around.
• Last Monday was the deadline for Vikings season-ticket holders to sign up for personal seat licenses at the new stadium. Those seat builders licenses went on sale 10 months ago and season-ticket holders were informed when they could select new seats. But with the deadline passed, anyone who didn’t renew and pay the fee lost their season tickets. The Vikings generated more than $82 million in licensing fees, much higher than their $37 million goal for the program. Now people who signed up in 2014 for season ticket chances will have the opportunity to select seats, followed by sales to the general public. The seat licenses fees reported by one former season-ticket holder were at $2,700 apiece.
• Gophers football’s appearance in the Citrus Bowl was responsible for the school’s fundraising campaign going from $60 million to a little more than $75 million.
• Jedd Fisch, the Gophers offensive coordinator in 2009 under Tim Brewster, was named passing game coordinator and quarterbacks/wide receivers coach at Michigan. Fisch was fired after two seasons as Jacksonville Jaguars offensive coordinator.
• Ex-Vikings coach Mike Tice is leaving as Falcons offensive line coach to join the Raiders in the same job. He is rejoining new Oakland coach and former Vikings teammate Jack Del Rio.