Our next man up in the franchise tag debate is linebacker Chad Greenway. Greenway turned 28 back on January 12, and was drafted with the 17th overall selection of the 2006 NFL Draft by the Vikings. Here's a look at how Greenway has performed as a member of the Minnesota Vikings.
Greenway missed the entire 2006 season after tearing an ACL covering a kickoff in his first ever pre-season game against the Oakland Raiders.
Of the three options that we're looking at in terms of the franchise tag, Chad Greenway has been the steadiest in terms of production since he finally got on the field. His coverage skills have gotten better pretty much every year since he entered the league, and he's one of those players that just always seems to be around the football on defense. He has teamed with E.J. Henderson and Ben Leber the past couple of seasons to give the Vikings one of the more underrated linebacking groups in the NFL.
He is the oldest of the three players that could potentially be franchised by the Vikings, and he'd be the second-most expensive, based on the 2010 franchise numbers. The last franchise tag for linebackers was $9.68 million dollars, and while his production has been steady, the Vikings might have to decide whether or not "steady" is worth nearly $10 million to them (or possibly more). The Vikings have developed some decent depth at linebacker, but really don't have anybody that would be able to step in and fill Greenway's shoes on a full-time basis at this point in time.
On the bright side, Greenway has never exhibited anything even remotely resembling an attitude problem since becoming a member of the Vikings, and seems genuinely happy to be a part of the team, having grown up a Vikings fan in his native South Dakota. Therefore, he may be the easiest to get a deal done with if the Vikings were to franchise him in the interest of signing him to something long-term.