It has been so long since the Vikings have had a top flight receiver on the roster, a traditional number one receiver anyways, that Vikings fans didn’t seem to mind in the slightest that Greg Jennings is a lifelong Packer.
Still, he is putting in some effort to make sure he is a popular guy.
Jennings appeared on KFAN Radio this morning with Paul Allen and really opened up about a number of topics with equal portions of honesty and tact that made for a really impressive interview.
He immediately scored some points by attaching himself to the last Packer that gave Minnesota a legitimate shot at a Super Bowl, Brett Favre.
“Literally, as I got off the plane and (offensive coordinator Bill) Musgrave walked up to me, I’m on the phone with Brett,” Jennings said as transcribed by Viking Update. “I spoke with Brett two or three times throughout this process. He shot me straight. I knew if there was one person that would shoot straight and tell me exactly what I wanted to hear and things I possibly didn’t want to hear, it would be Brett. He did that for me.”
The organization has undergone a face lift since Favre was last on the roster, but many key components still exist, and most of you know I don’t care for the guy but it is still encouraging to hear that a veteran NFL player was willing to give his endorsement of the organization to another player and friend. Those types of things can prove useful during times like free agency.
Unlike Percy Harvin, who actively seemed to avoid the topic of quarterback Christian Ponder, Jennings went out of his way to paint a bright future for his new quarterback with a positiveness that is sure to have the Vikings P.R. Department sharing a bottle of champagne tonight.
“I was able to see him make all throws,” Jennings said of his film study of Ponder. “He has a very strong arm. He can move within the pocket. If there’s one thing I would say, he probably, as every young quarterback, can work on accuracy outside the pocket. But that will come. To his credit, he had every right to be frustrated with the pieces that were around him – no disrespect with Percy going down and him having a young group of guys around him. He had every right to be a little frustrated, but he played well with what he had and he was able to have success.”
That statement perfectly illustrates why the Vikings felt they had to go out into free agency and invest heavily into getting a guy like Jennings. Ponder has not been overly impressive in most of his appearances as the Vikings quarterback, but he also hasn’t had a high quality group around him, outside of Percy Harvin.
I would argue that Harvin, and running back Adrian Peterson, are a reasonable allotment of elite playmakers for an NFL offense to have, but the Vikings have clearly lacked a true number one on the outside for many years. The acquisition of Jennings provides the Vikings with a window of opportunity to evaluate Ponder under more normal circumstances before his rookie contract expires and the Vikings face another big decision at the quarterback position.
Additional details about Jennings contract were revealed Monday, as noted in a 1500 ESPN article today, and the structure is interesting. Jennings deal is essentially for five years and $45 million with $17.8 million of it guaranteed. He got a $10 million signing bonus and his first two seasons have fully guaranteed salaries of $2.9 million and $4.9 million respectively.
After the 2014 season, which is not-so-coincidentally the year Ponder’s contract expires, the contract given to Jennings has paid out all of the guaranteed money and he can be released with minimal cap consequences. That is the same time that his cap hit spikes. His cap hit for 2013 is only $2.9 million which leaves the Vikings with about $6 million in cap space at the moment.
In 2014 his cap hit rises to $7 million, but starting in 2015 it will spike greatly.
This suggests that the Vikings have set themselves up for a transitional 2015 offseason if the Ponder-to-Jennings combination doesn’t develop as they hope. For now, however, Jennings appears to be the new golden boy of the organization that has nothing but great things to say about those in charge of eventually deciding his future.
“Mr. Spielman, Coach Frazier and the Wilf family, they were more in tune to me playing in this color and with this organization than Green Bay was,” Jennings said. “The decision was made and I’m excited about it and, even more so than me being excited about it, my family is excited about it. That always makes it easy.”