Saturday, May 28, 2016

christian ponder

The Vikings brass, and Jared Allen, spent last night and today courting free agent wide out Greg Jennings by taking him out to the famous Manny’s Steakhouse and touring the Winter Park facilities.

Now, Jennings is a Minnesota Viking under a five year deal, which fills a huge need on the wide receiver depth chart.

Jennings played with Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay for his whole career, but will now be playing with Christian Ponder who needs to continue to improve in order to maintain his status as the franchise’s quarterback of the present and the future.

Jennings, 29 years old, is coming off of an injury plagued season that turned out to be the worst of his career.  He managed only 36 catches for 366 yards and four touchdowns.  Still, the assumption is that he is fully healthy now and will strive to return to the 1,000 yard plus receiver that he was known as, which the Vikings need so desperately.

With Percy Harvin being  traded to Seattle the Vikings have Jerome Simpson, Jarius Wright, and Stephen Burton on the Vikings depth chart that could still see some movement this offseason.  The Vikings are still expected to use some combination of their 11 draft picks to add youth and talent at the position.

Jennings has played 96 games in his career and has caught 425 balls for 6,537 yards and 53 touchdowns.

His new deal is expected to be $47.5 million over the five years, with $18 million guaranteed, which is a $9.5 million per year average.

Rick Spielman had a lot of kind things to say about his staff at Thursday’s press conference prior to introducing Leslie Frazier who described Friday as a “great day for the Minnesota Vikings.”  Frazier also placed an emphasis on Jennings having high character and leadership qualities, which are the types of statements that were all too predictable following the trade of Harvin.

“I’m excited, today is a great day, and I’m looking forward to what the future holds,” said Jennings right off the bat who went on to describe his first walk into free agency and give his respects to the Green Bay Packers organization.

“It was just a family feel.  It felt comfortable,” Jennings said of his visit with the Vikings who said the team is a contender for whom the window is now opening, not closing.  He also said the move was selfish in that he is looking forward to playing with Adrian Peterson who commands the attention of an entire defense.

Jennings also talked highly of Christian Ponder’s game tape and feels he has matured, and will continue to mature, as a passer in the NFL and is looking forward to helping him out with that.

“It’s a fresh new start.  A Change,” he said.  “I’m looking forward to the change.”

Jennings said that his choices “pretty much” came down to Minnesota and Green Bay, and then cited his dinner with Jared Allen as a big reason why he made the decision he did.

Jennings ended his conference by saying, with a huge smile, that it is important to note he is currently 29 years old and will not be 30 until after the season starts.

Well, it took some time, but it appears that Rick Spielman got his man.

According to ESPN, the Vikings have reached an agreement with the former Packers receiver, who will provide the Vikings with a legitimate weapon for Christian Ponder’s second season as the full time starter.

Jennings will turn 30 in September and was reportedly looking for a deal north of $10 million.  Jennings has been plagued by injuries, and saw an increase in competition for snaps in Green Bay, over the last two seasons but was one of the NFL’s premier receivers from 2008 to 2010.

The deal is reported to be over five years, which means Jennings will be 35 years old when it expires, and financial terms are currently unknown.  A press conference is scheduled for 7:15 tonight.

We will have updates coming soon.

Matt Cassel knows he is being brought in not to compete with starting quarterback Christian Ponder, but to be his backup.

“Backup plan” might be a more accurate description for the thinking behind signing the 30 year old quarterback, given Christian Ponder’s sure-to-be short leash as he enters his third season in the NFL.

“They conveyed exactly that,” Cassel said on Thursday, “That Christian obviously had a great year last year, they went 10-6 and that he’s their starting quarterback and that they’re looking to bring somebody in with experience and somebody that will come in and basically be somebody who can step in if need be.”

“The fact of the matter is, again, Christian’s the starting quarterback and I think that we’ll have a great room. I’m there to add value. I’m there to help him out in whatever capacity that is and go from there.”

Contrary to numerous reports that say Cassel signed a one year deal worth $4 million, we believe that Cassel’s deal is actually for two years with an option for him to void it after one.  We also believe his 2013 cap hit will actually be less than $4 million.

I have to say, I am having a hard time thinking of a quarterback that has been (or is) on the open market this offseason that is a better and more accomplished quarterback than Cassel.  An argument could be made that Ryan Fitzpatrick qualifies, but an argument equally as strong could be made that the Vikings went out and got the best available quarterback this year.

After watching our playoff game at Green Bay last season it is hard to criticize anything about this move, even if the money is a tad on the highside for a backup quarterback.

The Minnesota Vikings were patient, waiting for quarterback Matt Cassel to be released instead of trying to trade for him, and that patience has paid off.

Cassel was signed to a two year worth about $4 million per year, according to Viking Update, with a potential to earn more through incentives. Cassel also reportedly has the right to void the contract after the 2013 season.

Cassel represents the first NFL player the Vikings have signed who wasn’t one of their own since free agency began on Tuesday.  Some national experts are reporting that Cassel will compete with Christian Ponder for the starting quarterback spot, but local media is brushing that off since the Vikings are so invested into Ponder, and I tend to think Ponder will be the guy without a doubt.

With that being said, Cassel presents the Vikings with some flexibility at the position.  Joe Webb and McLeod Bethel-Thompson will currently be in line to compete for the number three spot, but one will surely be sent packing as a result of this move, and some speculation that makes sense centers around trying to trade Joe Webb to an option offense team.  The situation will get even more interesting if the Vikings take a page out the Seattle Seahawks playbook in 2012 and decide to use one of their 11 draft picks on a quarterback, as well.

The signing of Cassel come on a day when reciever Greg Jennings is reportedly meeting with the team in Minnesota, and linebacker Brian Urlacher is reportedly of interest, which shows an interesting shift in priorities for the Vikings front office.  It was widely assumed that Rick Spielman and his staff would continue to pursue younger players with upside, as they did last season in an effort to rebuild the roster, but so far most of the serious interest seems to be in veterans.

Cassel is 30 years old.

The Vikings might not think they need to upgrade their starting quarterback position, but if the one playoff game they were able to play last season proved anything, it is that they desperately need a better backup option.

The Vikings have been linked, in passing, to Chiefs soon-to-be-displaced quarterback Matt Cassel ever since news broke that the Chiefs were swinging a trade for Alex Smith.  Cassel was believed to be a candidate for release as recently as Wednesday, but now the Chiefs appear to have held off on that with hopes of finding a trade partner.

One of those trade partners might be the Vikings.  The rumors continued to filter through the likes of Twitter and other unreliable sources of information, but it also started to get some attention from more main stream media outlets, and it appears as though this might have some legs behind it.

“Continue to hear Vikings really like Cassel,” NFL Network‘s Jason La Canfora tweeted late on Wednesday.

This is about the most quarterback-less offseason I can remember, as the Draft and free agent class are both greatly lacking any star power, but there are still some options that exist that would not require any picks to obtain.  Recently released Ryan Fitzpatrick and free agent Tyler Thigpen are both available, as is veteran signal caller Jason Campbell.

Cassel is currently set to make $7.5 million in 2013, the same salary the Vikings were in line to pay Antoine Winfield, but I would assume a new contract would be a top priority if they did decide to trade to obtain Cassel as a backup to Christian Ponder.  His 2014 salary is scheduled to increase to $9 million, according to Rotoworld.  

We are now two days deep into free agency and the Vikings have yet to sign any players that didn’t play for them last year, but at least the rumor mill is starting to heat up.

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