Jennings signs with rival Vikings

16 Mar
Wide Receiver Greg Jennings

Former Packers receiver Greg Jennings signed with the Vikings Friday. Jennings spent seven seasons with the Packers. Credit: common.wikimedia.org

Packers fans can stop holding their breath. The Greg Jennings sweepstakes is over, although it didn’t have the result Packers nation was hoping for. The former Packers wide receiver has signed with the Minnesota Vikings.

Jennings hit the free agent market as one of the most coveted receivers available. He was hoping to sign a lucrative deal worth upwards of $10 million a year, but, in reality, the market was softer than Jennings had anticipated. The first day of free agency saw former Steelers receiver Mike Wallace sign a 5-year, $60 million deal with the Miami Dolphins. No surprise there.

Jennings was looking for Wallace-type money, but no offers hit the table. He was forced to lower his asking price, which allowed the Packers and Vikings to enter the conversation.

How fitting? Even when they’re not playing against each other on the football field, the Packers and Vikings find a way to keep their rivalry going.

This isn’t the first time the Vikings have taken advantage of the opportunity to get their hands on some of the Packers’ sloppy seconds, so to speak. Ryan Longwell, Robert Ferguson, Darren Sharper and some guy named Brett Favre found their way to Minnesota after their respective careers in Green Bay. Will the Favre haters please stand up? Now sit down. It was four years ago; time to get over it.

The Vikings had no depth at receiver before signing Jennings, especially after shipping Percy Harvin, their playmaker in the passing game, to the Seattle Seahawks. The move to trade Harvin left Jerome Simpson as the team’s potential No. 1 receiver. Yeah, he’s the guy who flipped over a defender on his way into the end zone as a member of the Cincinnati Bengals just over a year ago. What has Simpson done since then? Good question. The Vikings were desperate for a possession receiver. Hello, Jennings.

The Vikings met with Jennings for two days, starting on Thursday. He went out to dinner with Head Coach Leslie Frazier, General Manager Rick Spielman, Offensive Coordinator Bill Musgrave, Assistant General Manager George Paton and defensive end Jared Allen. No deal appeared imminent. They most likely spent their time watching Jennings “Put the team on his back” on YouTube (picturing him in a Vikings jersey, of course) while sharing a few laughs and a beer. All jokes aside, there had to be something brewing for Jennings to spend the night in Minnesota.

Friday, Jennings reached an agreement with the Vikings on a five-year deal worth $47.5 million, with $18.5 million guaranteed. Jennings was Minnesota’s best remaining option at receiver. They couldn’t let him get away, and they didn’t. That being said, spending a sizeable chunk of change on a 29-year-old receiver with an injury history isn’t necessarily what I would consider a bargain, especially after a season in which Jennings only played eight games.

Jennings will get plenty of touches in Minnesota. He’ll score some touchdowns, too. But when his name shows up on the Vikings’ injury report for the first time, forgive me if I greet Vikings fans with “I told you so.”

With many explosive weapons on the Packers’ offense – Randall Cobb, James Jones, Jordy Nelson, to name a few – Green Bay was not prepared to engage in a bidding war with Minnesota. It wasn’t realistic to expect the Packers to spend a lot of money on a guy, who, in all honesty, would be the Packers’ third- or fourth-best receiver on the roster.

Jennings was the guy in Green Bay for many years. We’ve seen what he can do when he’s healthy, but there comes a time when a player and organization have to part ways for the best of both parties. That time was now for Jennings. Don’t be surprised if the Packers are better off without him.

Jennings said the quarterback would be a major factor in determining which team he would sign with. That tells us one thing: money talks. Aaron Rodgers is a better quarterback than Christian Ponder, no questions asked. The Vikings signed former Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel to a one-year, $4 million deal.

That makes the Vikings better at quarterback, right? Not at all. It’s a waste of money.

The only thing it does for Minnesota is encourages a quarterback competition, during which Jennings will be forced to work on his chemistry with two quarterbacks, instead of arguably the best one in the NFL.

Jennings is in a better financial position now, but I don’t see him being in the position to win a Super Bowl during his next five years in Minnesota. There’s simply too much firepower in the NFC for the Vikings to compete.

After all, Jennings already has a ring. Why not strive for a bigger pay day?

The Vikings can keep winning the Packers’ free agents. The Packers will stick to what they do best: winning football games.

It’ll be difficult to hate a role model like Jennings, which is why I won’t. Fourteen games of the season I won’t be disappointed if Jennings succeeds. But when he plays against the Packers twice each year, I’ll be wearing my Donald Driver jersey, knowing that’s what Jennings could have been.

How do you think Jennings will do in Minnesota?

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