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The Minnesota Vikings have signed linebacker Chad Greenway to a new five-year contract. The native of South Dakota has led the Vikings in tackles each of the last three years. AP Photo

Greenway signs five-year deal

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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) -- Chad Greenway called his parents at their South Dakota farm and told them about his new five-year contract with the Minnesota Vikings.

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His mother was happy. They won't have to buy new jerseys for the family, she reminded him, because he won't be an unrestricted free agent. Greenway's parents were also pleased, of course, that he'll continue to play close to home. This celebratory conversation didn't last much longer, though.

"She said she needed to let me go and go rake some hay," Greenway said. "Whatever. She's always busy."

When the Vikings revealed Greenway's extension after practice on Monday, the 28-year-old former first-round draft pick stayed true to form -- and to his roots -- by crediting his parents for teaching him priorities and perspective and profusely praising the organization for the way it has treated him since he came in 2006.

"To make an NFL career work for you and be financially set is amazing," Greenway said.

The Vikings didn't disclose the terms, but the St. Paul Pioneer Press, citing a person with direct knowledge of the deal, reported that it's worth $41 million including $20 million guaranteed. The contract runs through the 2015 season and should create more space under the salary cap for 2011.

"You've got to sell a lot of feeder pigs to make that kind of money," Greenway said, repeating what Tom West, the team's assistant director of public relations and a fellow former farm kid, told him. "That's a lot of hours in the barn."

The Vikings tagged Greenway in February as their franchise player, essentially a one-year contract that would've paid him more than $10 million this season to keep him off the market for another year. He and his agent, Marvin Demoff, could've held out for open bidding next March but Greenway said he didn't want to leave.

"I just can't say enough about how highly I hold the organization. You hear a lot of bad stories around the league, and I have nothing bad to say about these guys," said Greenway, who has led the team in tackles in each of the last three years. "They have always been good."

Head coach Leslie Frazier took over as the defensive coordinator in 2007, Greenway's first season in action after a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee knocked him out of his rookie year. Playing in a 4-3 scheme at the strong side linebacker spot, Greenway doesn't collect as many sacks as others do in the 3-4 defense. He once, however, had three takeaways in a game -- two interceptions and a fumble recovery against Detroit in 2009 -- and has the quickness and awareness to make an impact on the game.

"He can stay on the field on third down and cover tight ends man-to-man. He can drop in zone coverage. There are times when we are bringing him as a blitzer as well," Frazier said, adding: "You want him to be a Pro Bowl player here in Minnesota as opposed to somewhere else."

Frazier even said Greenway told him he'd like to lead the league in interceptions by a linebacker one season. He's an example of a player who has steadily improved throughout his career, from starting in nine-man football in high school to arriving at Iowa as a skinny quarterback and safety to becoming a confident leader and a surer tackler in recent years with the Vikings.

"Something has always been there -- just a burning desire to always want to be better," Greenway said. "I think it started right when I was little, and I wanted to be in the NFL. Nobody every scoffed at you, especially in the middle of South Dakota. ... I wasn't gifted with the most physical ability, but I try to work with what I have and make it stand out."

NOTES: Frazier said rookie Christian Ponder will probably be the No. 2 QB behind Donovan McNabb, with Joe Webb as the No. 3. The NFL relaxed its rule on the use of a No. 3 QB, allowing his entry in the game at any time while raising the game-day number of active players from 45 to 46. Previously, the No. 3 QB could only come in when the first two guys got hurt. That makes Webb, an elusive runner who played some wide receiver in college, an ideal fit for that spot. Frazier said the Vikings are experimenting with ways to use Webb in certain sets and plays. "It's just a matter of whether we want to do it now or two weeks from now ... but we want to utilize his gifts," Frazier said. ... Jamarca Sanford will start at SS, Frazier said, but Tyrell Johnson will rotate in at that spot as well.

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