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The Minnesota Vikings made a great decision when they signed ex-Packer wide receiver Greg Jennings to a 5-year, $47.5 million contract Friday afternoon. Jennings’ signing is a net plus for the Vikings. Earlier this week, the Vikings traded Percy Harvin to the Seattle Seahawks for a kings’ ransom.

There’s no questioning the fact that Harvin is a talented playmaker, a difference maker. That said, there’s no disputing that he’s a handful off the field.

In Greg Jennings, the Vikings get a veteran, a player known for his leadership in the locker room and the film room, a player known for his involvement in the community and for being a gifted receiver. This video interview with Vikings.com blogger Mike Wobschall says everything about Jennings’ character and personality.

Towards the end of Jennings’ interview with Wobschall, Jennings talked about playing with Adrian Peterson was the biggest attraction for him signing with the Vikings. It’s pretty certain that Jennings won’t see as many nickel and dime packages with Adrian in the backfield as he saw with Aaron Rodgers as QB.

Another thing that flashed through is that Jennings is excited to join the Vikings. He can’t wait to start digging into the Vikings playbook, citing his desire to learn Bill Musgrave’s offensive philosophy so he can play wherever he’s needed. Whether it’s lining up in the slot or outside the numbers, Jennings sounds like he’d like to line up wherever the biggest mismatch is.

When Harvin was traded, Adrian Peterson tweeted that he felt like he’d been kicked in the gut several times. I’m betting he’s feeling much better tonight. He’s got a gifted wide receiver on the outside who will take defenders out of the box to defend against Adrian’s runs.

It’s obvious that the Vikings hope Jennings’ signing will help Christian Ponder’s development. That said, one of the guys that will be helped by Jennings’ signing is Pro Bowl MVP Kyle Rudolph. During the second half of the season, Rudolph was pretty much the only guy who got open for Ponder’s passes.

Adding Greg Jennings through free agency and hopefully a wideout in the draft will take pressure off Rudolph, Ponder and Adrian Peterson.

This has been a productive week for the Vikings. They traded Percy Harvin for a first round pick and a seventh round pick in this April’s draft and a third round pick in the 2014 draft. They signed Greg Jennings and QB Matt Cassel, then resigned OT Phil Loadholt and FB Jerome Felton to four- and three-year extensions respectively.

The Vikings now have the 23rd and 25th picks in the first round to go along with picks in each of the seven rounds, including 2 picks in the fourth and seventh rounds.

When the dust settles after the draft, I’d bet that the Vikings will have had the most productive offseason of all the teams. Yes, other teams will have made big splashes. The Dolphins fit into that category. Ditto with Seattle and Denver.

Quietly, though, the Vikings will have kept a talented offensive line together, kept Jerome Felton around as Adrian Peterson’s lead blocker while likely adding some options for Christian Ponder. Finally, they’ll likely address their needs in the front seven, too.

That’s how smart GMs quietly build strong teams for years to come.

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3 Responses to “Vikings sign ex-Packer WR Greg Jennings”

  • walter hanson says:

    Gary:

    It looks like they have done their work to get the offense set, but I think there is lots of work to get the defense fixed.

    One thing you forgot to mention was that this team was just not making a couple of turnovers in the Green Bay game to sweeping the regular season against the Packers and winning the NFC North.

    Walter Hanson
    Minneapolis, MN

  • eric z says:

    Harvin was fine, an excellent kick returner, all that, until his season ending injury. Jennings has an injury history that might/might not prove problematic.

    Either, healthy enough to suit and play, is worthwhile.

    Depth at receiver is now the problem, as it was last year.

    And middle linebacker. Jasper Brinkley was not resigned.

    First round, it would be great if they got a run stopping nose tackle, something missing since Pat Williams left after elbow problems his last two seasons. I recall one play where he stood up a double team and there was no hole for the running back. They miss that.

    Cornerback? Winfield gone, the draft, and after that look at who is still a free agent.

    Do you try Joe Webb at receiver as was the initial plan, or jettison him and keep McLeod Bethel-Thompson?

    If he has the hands and runs routes well, he has proven he can get yards after a catch, by getting yards from the backfield.

    Is Marquis Gray good enough as a possession receiver to be a middle to late round pick? For Vikings, for anybody. I saw he ran a 4.7.

    Who runs back kicks the way Harvin did?

    Strib had Chris Carter saying the Bears gave up only two third round picks to get Brandon Marshall, so the Harvin deal looks good by comparison – but Seattle got the player that could put them over the hump. Probably good both ways since Seattle was willing to pay Percy’s price.

  • Gary Gross says:

    Eric, it’s important to remember that Jennings played after getting injured. He passed a physical before signing his contract. In my mind, that takes that issue off the table.

    Second, the Vikings got a king’s ransom for Percy. It’s important to note that Jennings is a leader in the locker room & the film room. He’s a charismatic figure who will push the Vikings other receivers to higher levels.

    Percy was often described as mercurial temperamentally. Jennings is stability personified. To be fair, though, Percy is a bit more dynamic.

    Here’s my opinion on the NFL Draft: the Vikings will likely use one of their first round picks on a WR. That will likely be a choice between Cal’s Keenan Allen, Tennessee’s Justin Hunter or Clemson’s DeAndre Hopkins. They’ll likely take a defensive tackle with their other first round pick. That’s most likely to be North Carolina’s Sylvester Williams or Missouri’s Sheldon Richardson.

    Another option in the first round might be to take Notre Dame MLB Manti Te’o. Te’o took tons of grief for his ‘girlfriend’ controversy but there’s no questioning his abilities on the football field.

    It wouldn’t be foolish for the Vikings to wait until the second round to restock their receivers. It’s important to remember that two of the hottest receivers this offseason, Greg Jennings & Anquan Boldin, were second round picks. Rob Gronkowski and Kyle Rudolph were picked in the second round, too, so talented pass catchers are available beyond the first round.

    Now that I think of it, the Giants’ Victor Cruz was an undrafted free agent while the Saints’ Marques Colston was a seventh round pick. There’s no question there’s value in late round picks.

    Finally, Rick Spielman is showing his abilities as GM. I trust him with the draft. Just look at last year’s draft, when he drafted 3 Pro Bowl-caliber players: OT Matt Kalil, S Harrison Smith in the first round & PK Blair Walsh in the sixth round.

    Third round pick Josh Robinson, a CB from Central Florida, & fourth round pick Jarius Wright, a speedy WR from Arkansas, will either win starting jobs or get lots of playing time this season, too.

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