Wednesday, April 1, 2015
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percy harvin

As we prepare for the 2013 NFL Draft in these parts I came to the realization that the very first Draft I covered as a blogger, the 2009 Draft class, have all completed their rookie contracts, and I can now be held accountable for the grades I assigned the Vikings back in my first days of blogging at VikingsGab.com.

Every year we dismiss draft grades as useless opinions that couldn’t possibly be accurate prior to these guys even stepping on an NFL field.  With the career paths of the 2009 class now taking shape, however, I thought it’d be fun to go back and see just how useless my grades were exactly.  The entire post of my 2009 draft grades an analysis can be read right here.

WR Percy Harvin (First Round, Pick 22)

What I said then:

GRADE:  “C”          There is no denying that Harvin could become a premier player with his game changing abilities, but he also runs the risk of doing more damage than good if his character flaws come out again.  For now a “C” until he earns the respect of Minnesota fans.  The fact that he was chosen over offensive tackle Michael Oher is another reason why I didn’t give the Vikings a higher grade here.

What I say now:

The Vikings ended up getting an elite talent out of Harvin, but health and character issues did indeed taint his time in Minnesota, which ended up seeing him shipped to Seattle for three picks including the 25th overall selection this year.  Harvin was that year’s Offensive Rookie of the Year and made multiple Pro Bowls as a return man.  I was wrong about Michael Oher being the superior player here, but only one of those two guys is still with the team that drafted him.

Well, the first wave of free agency has come and gone, and there were some fireworks involving our favorite team.  Percy Harvin was traded, Antoine Winfield was released, Greg Jennings and Matt Cassel were signed, and a lot of Vikings were retained.  Now it is time to put a nice exclamation point on this first wave as we wade closer into the second, and else edge towards the Draft.

 

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.

Leading up to the visit, and eventual signing, of wide receiver Greg Jennings there were reports that the Packers were making an effort to keep him and there were varying reports regarding just where Jennings’ market measured up.

We already have discussed that Jennings signed a five year deal with the Vikings worth an average of about $9 million per year.

Now, Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel brings us details about just how things ended with the Packers, and also points out that the Vikings and Packers weren’t the only team interested in Jennings.

According to McGinn, Jennings turned down an extension offer from the Packers that averaged $11 million per year, because he was seeking something more in the neighborhood of $15 million.  A concussion during training camp was followed by an abdominal injury that required surgery, and his perceived value obviously took a hit after those injuries prevented him from having a normal Jennings-type season on the field.

After all, Jennings had flat out missed half of the last 22 Packers games, and questions about his long term viability were being raised for the first time in his career.

Despite the injuries and a stacked depth chart, however, the Packers showed significant interest in retaining the 29 year old wide out.  According to McGinn’s sources, Jennings had an offer from the Packers that averaged about $8 million per year.  This was significantly less than what they offered him last year, and way less than the $15 million average he was originally seeking, so Jennings sat tight during the opening days of free agency to see if anyone stepped up.

With the deep-pocketed Miami Dolphins shelling out a bunch of money to Mike Wallace, and Seattle trading for Percy Harvin, the possible landing destinations for Jennings started to narrow.  The New England Patriots did make an offer to Jennings, which averaged about $6 million per year, but those talks didn’t go very far, writes McGinn.

The Vikings, as Jennings puts it, “stepped up to the plate” with their contract offer following a wooing period in the Twin Cities.

It appears pretty obvious that the Vikings paid more than anyone else was willing to, but clearly less than the market thought Jennings was worth last year.  The hope is that Jennings is able to return to his 2010 form and avoid future injuries so that the contract looks less like a desperation move, and more like a bargain.

 

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.

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