Detroit Lions Free Agency: The Case for Minnesota Vikings OLB Chad Greenway

Ben LorimerSenior Analyst IIJanuary 21, 2011

MINNEAPOLIS - OCTOBER 17:  Running back Marion Barber #24 of the Dallas Cowboys is pursued by Chad Greenway #52 of the Minnesota Vikings during the second quarter at Mall of America Field on October 17, 2010 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Vikings defeated the Cowboys 24-21.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Chad Greenway is the star 4-3 outside linebacker in the upcoming free agency.

This makes him a very interesting player for the Detroit Lions, who are in need of a top outside linebacker to replace the aqing Julian Peterson.

Greenway is one of the many defensive starters or important depth players who are hitting unrestricted free agency. This means that they may struggle with signing all of them, and some may be left out.

While Greenway is the best of them, this does not mean that he will certainly be resigned though.

Firstly, the long, rich contract that he wants would force the Vikings to give up on signing most of their free agents. With the team in rebuilding mode, sacrificing depth could hinder them further. Also, he is an injury risk. In 2002, he had surgery on his knee and as a rookie in 2006, he missed the whole season with a torn ACL.

This fragility will give Minnesota's front office second thoughts about giving him a huge contract.

This plays into the hands of Detroit. Since it is very close to Minnesota, Greenway would not have to uproot his family much, if at all. Also, they play a similar style of defense, which forgoes blitzing in favour of a dominant four man rush.

However, the Lions look to have the better defensive line for the near future. Greenway would not have to learn a whole new defense and Schwartz is well known to be a defensively minded head coach who looks after his defense.

This all adds up to an interesting package for Greenway.

Chad is one of the best 4-3 outside linebackers in the league at the moment. He is a sure tackler in the open field. He is also very big for an outside linebacker. He weighs 242 lbs and 6'2" tall.

His instincts are top notch and he is rarely penalised (unlike Mr. Peterson). His hand use is amazing to get away from blockers and takes good angles when in pursuit. He does a good job in coverage, although lacks the speed to deal with super athletic slot receivers like Percy Harvin. He is also 28, so will be in his prime for a few more seasons yet.

In his 63 starts, Greenway has recorded 463 tackles, 144 of them in the 2010 season. He has also recorded 6.5 sacks, 18 defended passes, five interceptions and seven forced fumbles.

Greenway would solidify the outside linebacker spot for the Lions for five or so years, and allow them to take a run stuffing middle linebacker in the draft. His ability to shut down outside runs is uncanny, which would stop teams just running away from Suh and Williams in the middle of the field.

His coverage skills are also a cut above Peterson due to age. This makes him far more able to deal with tight end and slot receivers, who have been passed over to Delmas recently; this has limited Delmas' chances to be a playmaker.

Greenway is not much of a blitzer either, which suits the style that Scwartz has played so far. His skills, which are stopping runners and playing good zone coverage are exactly what the Lions are looking for in an outside linebacker.

Greenway would be a valuable linebacker for the Lions, but his cost will not be justified by his impact on the team. The Lions will still need a middle linebacker in the draft, and Greenway will be a marquee player in this free agency. He will cost too much.

The Lions would be better suited signing Stephen Tulloch (because he will be cheaper) or David Harris or Paul Posluszny (because they play middle linebacker).


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