- Ben Goessling, ESPN Staff Writer
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— Chris Lundy (@LundyWorld) June 26, 2015
@GoesslingESPN: Gerald Hodges certainly showed flashes of being a starter last season; he made seven starts, had one of the Vikings' defensive plays of the year with his interception of Geno Smith in the Jets game, and looked like a force in run support. Still, I thought it was interesting that Mike Zimmer called Chad Greenway the best weakside linebacker the Vikings have earlier this offseason, and that Greenway got all of the work with the Vikings' first-team defense in OTAs and minicamp. They're still planning for him to start, which suggests there are still questions for Hodges to answer. There were times last season where Zimmer talked about the Vikings still trying to get Hodges to adhere to their system consistently, and there's little question the Vikings still think Greenway can play. They wouldn't have brought him back if they didn't. I see your point about pass coverage, where Hodges is probably better than Greenway at this point, but I think there's a way around this: Greenway starts at weakside linebacker and comes off the field in nickel situations. If Eric Kendricks proves he can handle that part of the job, my hunch is he'll end up playing in the nickel with Anthony Barr. That should keep Greenway fresh, and the Vikings can use him primarily in their base defense.
— Yinka Ayinde (@Saxyprince) June 25, 2015
@GoesslingESPN: Possibly, though I don't think that will necessarily happen because the Vikings can't afford to keep everyone. Some players will certainly be expensive -- Harrison Smith will get a contract extension in the next year or so, Matt Kalil will cost plenty if he rebounds this year, and Xavier Rhodes could command a big salary if he plays like one of the top cover corners in the league. But here's what the Vikings have working in their favor: They're not going to have major expenses at quarterback until 2018 at the earliest. That means they can get some of their young players signed and carry the pricey years of the contracts before they have to pay Teddy Bridgewater (assuming he develops enough to earn an extension). That's the same structure the Seattle Seahawks have used to sign Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, Earl Thomas, Michael Bennett and Marshawn Lynch, among others. They've still got another year of Russell Wilson on his rookie contract, and they've been able to plan ahead because of it. The Vikings have the added benefit of a fifth-year option on Bridgewater, who still wouldn't break the bank in the last year of his rookie contract. The one player I could see the Vikings letting go is Cordarrelle Patterson, though that would be more likely because Patterson hadn't played well enough to earn a new deal. Otherwise, the Vikings have time to lock up their best young performers before the Bridgewater bill could come due.
— Ryan Doherty (@_ryandoherty) June 26, 2015
@GoesslingESPN: That's an interesting question. Zimmer's defense isn't designed for the right end to wind up with double-digit sack numbers every season. Michael Johnson had 11 sacks in 2012 for the Cincinnati Bengals; he played well in 2013, too, but got to the quarterback only 3.5 times that season. So I wouldn't measure Griffen's performance in 2015 solely by his sack numbers. He played well against the run last year, and if he does that again he'll have taken care of his first responsibility in the Vikings' defense. I'd expect teams will pay more attention to Griffen on passing downs, which could cause his sack totals to drop. But as Zimmer often says, if the Vikings are getting sacks as a team, it doesn't matter to him who ends up with the individual stats.