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Thread: Bob Sansevere: Vikings get it right with Greg Jennings (not with Jerome Simpson)

  1. #1

    Bob Sansevere: Vikings get it right with Greg Jennings (not with Jerome Simpson)

    Bob Sansevere: Vikings get it right with Greg Jennings (not with Jerome Simpson)
    Pioneer Press
    Posted: 03/16/2013 12:01:00 AM CDT
    March 16, 2013 5:30 AM GMTUpdated: 03/16/2013 12:30 AM CDT

    This works.

    This deal for Greg Jennings softens the on-field loss of Percy Harvin, giving the Vikings a legitimate wide receiver who is more about credentials than potential.

    Last year, the Vikings signed Jerome Simpson, who was all potential. Between injuries and sulk modes, Simpson never turned into the game-breaker Vikings general manager Rick Spielman had envisioned.

    The Vikings re-signed Simpson the other day. Apparently, Spielman is reluctant to admit when he's wrong.

    He got it right with Jennings, though.

    It was a wine, dine and sign. Jennings was courted with dinner Thursday night, March 14, and agreed to terms Friday.

    It easily is the Vikings' best free-agent signing since Spielman was promoted to general manager. Of course, there wasn't all that much competition.

    Anyway, Christian Ponder now has the wide receiver who helped turn Aaron Rodgers into one of the league's elite quarterbacks. That's not to say the mere presence of Jennings will transform Ponder into one of the NFL's best. But if Ponder is to improve, a wide receiver such as Jennings can accelerate his development.

    And if Ponder doesn't improve, Matt Cassel will benefit from having Jennings on the receiving end of passes.

    Jennings caught passes from both Brett Favre and Rodgers, and, while not the burner Mike Wallace is, he can stretch a defense. Jennings has a career average of 15.4 yards a catch. That's better than Jordy Nelson, better than James Jones and even slightly better than Randall Cobb, the three receivers the Green Bay Packers still have.

    Jennings, at 29, is the veteran the Vikings needed, a guy who offers leadership on and off the field. Otherwise, the Vikings will be young at receiver this season.

    Jarius Wright, 23, is entering his second year and should begin the season as the slot receiver. Simpson, 27, showed last season he still has plenty to learn. He also showed raw bursts of athleticism. If he can harness his skill and mind, he could become dangerous.

    In the meantime, the Vikings will be stocking up on wideouts in the draft. They won't be taking just one.

    No matter who else is added, Jennings' presence will have a ripple effect. Besides making Ponder better, defenses will have to account for him. That means running back Adrian Peterson will be dealing with fewer defenses stacked to stop him.

    There is no downside to signing Jennings. Only upside.

  2. #2

    Vikings pilfer another Packer

    Tom Powers: Vikings pilfer another Packer
    Pioneer Press
    Posted: 03/16/2013 12:01:00 AM CDT
    March 16, 2013 5:31 AM GMTUpdated: 03/16/2013 12:31:22 AM CDT

    Oh man, Packer fans are taking this hard. Twitter is a cesspool of bad language and foul imagery.

    Vikings fans certainly didn't demonstrate such uncouth behavior when the Packers signed away Koren Robinson in 2006. Instead, they stayed classy. Hey, just because the Vikings had released Robinson after a high-speed car chase in Mankato, it didn't mean they might not have signed him back.

    But now all the Packer backers are going screwy, as if Greg Jennings were Brett Favre or something.

    Besides, I'm not even sure if the Packers can blame Jennings for defecting. By all accounts, the Vikings locked him up at Winter Park and wouldn't release him until he agreed to a deal. That was a smart strategy because, as any car salesman knows, once you let a guy get off the lot, he's pretty much gone for good.

    The signing was an excellent one for the Vikings because it brings their total number of capable receivers up to, well, one. But you have to start somewhere. And the Vikings are almost back to even after getting rid of Percy Harvin. If they can use their draft choices to come up another good wideout, they will be ahead of the game.

    Jennings, meanwhile, said it came down to either the Vikings or Packers before adding that the Vikings really "stepped up to the plate." Then, intentionally or not, he sort of tweaked the Packers several times. Just little things such as going on about how the Vikings have a window of opportunity that is opening instead of closing.

    And there was none of the usual remorse that comes with ending a long relationship. Not even the fake kind. There was none of that "I'll always be a Packer" stuff or anything like that. It was as if he were shaking the dust from the bottom of his shoes. I'm not sure what was going on there, but Jennings seemed gleeful to get away and start fresh.

    Maybe the window really is closing in Green Bay. But I'm not going to speculate because those poor folks are riled up enough. Clearly, this is tantamount to treason as far as they are concerned. So I'm not going to poke the bear with a stick.

    This is a bigger splash than we thought the Vikings would make. Spielman and his crew have proved to be adept at drafting players but spotty at signing free agents. In fact, there were a few miserable signings last year. However, it's hard to see where this one could go wrong. If Jennings is healthy, and I'm sure he had to pass a physical, there doesn't appear to be much downside.

    Some might say Jennings isn't quite what he once was, even though he's just 29. But it's all relative. He's 10 times better than anything the Vikings have right now. So they've addressed their most vulnerable position. Christian Ponder -- and maybe Matt Cassel before it's all said and done -- now has a capable wide receiver.

    Jennings already had his "we" and "them" down properly as of Friday night. Whatever they gave him to drink while locked up at Winter Park, he no longer thinks like a Packer. And he sounded as if he were looking forward to the two teams colliding.

    "I'm not the first Packer player to jump on this side," he said, no doubt referring to former kicker Ryan Longwell. Or maybe he was referring to the elderly quarterback. Anyway, it wasn't clear.

    The bottom line is that this was a good day for all those who root for the Vikings and an equally good day for all those who root against the Packers. In other words, Vikings fans hit the daily double.

    Let's see, Favre, Longwell, Jennings. ... The Vikings are almost even for that Koren Robinson signing. But on the off chance that Jennings doesn't work out, when does that young Randall Cobb become available so he can get over here?

  3. #3
    Minnesota Vikings, Greg Jennings agree to five-year deal
    By Ben Goessling
    Posted: 03/16/2013 12:01:00 AM CDT
    March 16, 2013 5:30 AM GMTUpdated: 03/16/2013 12:30:24 AM CDT

    In seven years with the Green Bay Packers, Greg Jennings played one game that wasn't quarterbacked by Brett Favre or Aaron Rodgers. When he and his wife, Nicole, boarded a plane for the Twin Cities on Thursday, March 14, though, Jennings had a feeling that streak was about to end.

    So Jennings went to the film, specifically to watch Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder. If he was indeed going to cross the border, and likely stake the final productive years of his career on Minnesota's offense, "I had to know what I was getting into," he said.

    What the receiver saw, he said, was a maturing young quarterback he believed he could win with in Minnesota. And by Friday morning, Jennings had decided he was ready to make a change.

    He signed a five-year deal with the Vikings, immediately becoming the face of a receiving corps in transition and the refuge for a quarterback still learning to play in the NFL. The five-year contract the Vikings gave Jennings, worth a reported $47.5 million, and the attention they lavished on him during a two-day visit, certainly helped to close the deal.

    But Jennings' decision to stop doing Lambeau Leaps required, in part, a leap of faith -- in Ponder.

    "I know the drive is there. I know the work ethic is there," Jennings said. "I know he wants to be great. It's just a matter of putting pieces around him. He can't do it all by himself."

    The two-time Pro Bowler will be expected to be a big part of Ponder's support system, and as he talked Friday evening at Winter Park, dressed in a gray Vikings workout shirt, Jennings seemed eager for the task.

    He will be the Vikings' No. 1 receiver, likely lining up on the outside to take advantage of the single coverage receivers often see while defenses are worried about Adrian Peterson. As talented as Percy Harvin was, the Vikings felt like they needed a true outside receiver, and they saw in Jennings a player unique enough to woo in free agency, where they typically don't spend much money.

    They contacted Jennings' agent, Eugene Parker, on the first day of the three-day negotiating window leading up to free agency. General manager Rick Spielman quickly told Parker the Vikings were interested, and asked him to call them when they were setting up free-agent visits.

    The two sides finalized Jennings' itinerary on Wednesday. It wound up being the only visit he took.

    "I definitely wanted to know they wanted me," Jennings said. "I wanted to feel like they wanted me to be a part of what they were doing, and a part of their future. I got that feeling early, and I got that feeling quite often."

    The Jennings dined Thursday with Spielman, coach Leslie Frazier and his wife, assistant GM George Paton, offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave and defensive end Jared Allen and his wife, spending the evening at Manny's in downtown Minneapolis. After Greg and Nicole Jennings went back to their hotel room, they knew their initial hunches about the Vikings had been confirmed.

    Spielman didn't begin negotiating a deal with Parker until the following day, but word of an agreement surfaced by early Friday evening. Jennings would have the multi-year contract the Packers reportedly hadn't offered him until just before free agency, and he would again be the focal point of a passing game after seeing his numbers slip in a Green Bay offense predicated on spreading the ball around.

    For the Vikings, there is some risk with the deal.

    Jennings will be 30 in September -- though he exclaimed "I'm not old!" with a smile on his face during his press conference -- and he missed eight games after undergoing abdominal surgery last year. Spielman said Vikings trainer Eric Sugarman was satisfied with the results of the physical examination he gave Jennings on Friday, but the receiver played all 16 games in only three of his seven years in Green Bay.

    He will benefit from Peterson's presence, but Jennings also will have to prove he can still excel when defensive coordinators are concentrating coverage on him. And he could have to mentor Ponder and a young receiving corps -- though Jennings embraced that role Friday and both Frazier and Spielman said they believe he is up to it.

    "He's a tremendous athlete. We all know that," Frazier said. "But what he'll bring to our locker room. The energy that he'll bring to what we do at practice, along with his leadership, those were all qualities we were looking for when we talked with Greg."

    So once both sides felt comfortable Friday, Jennings agreed to the deal. He spoke briefly on the phone with Ponder, who tweeted a welcome shortly after the deal was announced. And he recorded a video greeting to the Vikings fans who had been booing him for years, with a graphic showing he would wear No. 15 in Minnesota.

    That was Jennings' number in college, but it was retired in Green Bay for Bart Starr, the first of the Packers' three Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks.

    Ponder doesn't offer that kind of a pedigree, at least at this point. But Jennings' decision, as much as anything, was about a belief that he and the quarterback can get there together.

    "I respect him for that," Spielman said of Jennings analyzing Ponder. "But I also know what we have in Christian Ponder. ... He got to see first-hand in that last game in the Metrodome. That was probably Christian's best game. When you get players around Christian, like a Greg Jennings, it's only going to help that young quarterback get that much better."

    Follow Ben Goessling at twitter.com/BenGoesslingPP.

  4. #4
    Vikings sign WR Greg JenningsUpdated: March 16, 2013, 12:23 AM ETESPN.com news services Recommend2KTweet287Comments5K+EmailPrintSource: Greg Jennings Agrees With Vikings
    Source: Greg Jennings reaches five-year agreement with Vikings.
    Tags: NFL, Minnesota Vikings, Gre JenningsSource: Greg Jennings Agrees With VikingsEDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Greg Jennings spent seven years getting the best of the Minnesota Vikings secondary while playing for their bitter rivals in Green Bay.

    No longer feeling as important to the Packers after two seasons shortened by injuries, Jennings crossed the border and found a team that welcomed him with desperately open arms.

    More From ESPN.com
    The Greg Jennings deal makes perfect sense for the Vikings. It elevated them from having zero legitimate receivers to one, writes Kevin Seifert. Blog


    Greg Jennings may not be a deep threat, but he can strengthen the Vikings' passing game and take attention off Adrian Peterson, writes KC Joyner. Story

    Jennings signed a five-year contract with the Vikings on Friday, leaving Aaron Rodgers and that high-octane passing offense in Green Bay for the unproven Christian Ponder and the ground-and-pound Vikings.

    The contract has a maximum value of $47.5 mlllion, with $18 million guaranteed. The contract is worth a minimum of $27 million over the first three years, and could be as much as $28.5 million over the first three years if he goes to the Pro Bowl, according to ESPN's Josina Anderson.

    The 29-year-old Jennings played in only eight games for the Packers in 2012, plus two in the playoffs, because of a torn lower abdominal muscle and finished with a career-low 366 yards receiving with an average of 10.2 yards per catch, also his worst NFL total.

    In 2011, he missed three games with a sprained left knee. He said he felt lost in the shuffle behind younger Packers receivers such as James Jones, Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb and sounded determined to prove that his best years are not behind him.

    "I can definitely still do it," said Jennings, who will turn 30 on Sept. 21. "I can definitely still make plays and be as exciting as I was in my earlier years."

    Then he caught himself and chuckled.

    "I am not old," he said. "I am 29 years old!"

    If this story of a high-profile Packers player joining the Vikings sounds familiar, that's because it is. Safety Darren Sharper, kicker Ryan Longwell and, of course, quarterback Brett Favre defected before him.

    "I'm not the first Packers player to jump on this side," he said with a smile.

    Jennings At Home In Minnesota
    Greg Jennings enjoyed his games in Minnesota while he was with the Packers, scoring seven touchdowns in seven games and averaging 11 more yards than in the rest of his career road games.

    Greg Jennings Career in Road Games
    at Vikings at Others
    Games 7 41
    Rec TD 7 23
    Rec YPG 81.1 70.3
    --ESPN Stats & Information

    Like the others, Jennings will be counted on to fill a gaping hole in Minnesota. The Vikings were in dire need of a No. 1 receiver after trading Percy Harvin to Seattle last week. Even when Harvin was in purple, Ponder had yet to play with a true game-breaker on the outside.

    "You can just get a sense that he needed a little more around him to give him some help," Jennings said. "Hopefully, I can help him a little bit."

    Looking to give his young quarterback as much help as possible to truly evaluate his ability to be a building block for the franchise into the future, Vikings general manager Rick Spielman went against his philosophy of spending big money on outside free agents to get Jennings locked up.

    "I'm a very strong believer in building through the draft," Spielman said. "But every once in a while something unique will come about that you just want to make sure that you can get accomplished to get that player here."

    The two-time Pro Bowl pick will immediately be the leader of a nondescript receivers group that includes Jerome Simpson, who is coming off an injury-plagued 2012 season, and second-year slot receiver Jarius Wright. Jennings will be counted on not only to help Ponder but the teammates at his position, including any rookies they draft next month.

    The transition from a former league MVP in Rodgers to the still-developing Ponder won't be easy. Jennings spoke highly of his time in Green Bay, where he was drafted in the second round in 2006 and spent seven years catching passes from Favre and Rodgers.

    He spoke honestly about the hesitation of playing with a quarterback who has been wildly inconsistent in his first two years in the league. So he sat down and watched some video of the Vikings from last season.

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    "I had to watch Christian," Jennings said. "I had to see what I was [getting] myself into. Very athletic quarterback, obviously his upside, his future is bright. I saw a young guy that was maturing."

    What Jennings does have now that he never did in Green Bay, however, is an All-Pro running back. A league MVP, in fact. Adrian Peterson finished last season 9 yards short of breaking Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing record.

    Jennings has admired Peterson from the other side for years, never more so than in 2012 when he watched Peterson come back from a torn ACL in his left knee to carry the Vikings offense into the playoffs last season.

    "You see a guy like 'All Day' sitting in that backfield and you see the cluster of guys that are gathered in that box for him, it's going to be some special things taking place," Jennings said, smiling again.

    Widely praised as a respected locker-room presence who relished charitable work in the Green Bay community, Jennings certainly will be a breath of fresh air in Minnesota off the field as well.

    One of the main reasons the Vikings parted with Harvin was the trouble the volatile 24-year-old would occasionally cause behind the scenes. That probably won't be an issue with Jennings.

    "He's as great player," Ponder said of Jennings earlier this week. "He's been doing great things in Green Bay, and he'd bring leadership to that position. Kind of a dynamic guy you can put in the slot and outside. I've always admired his work in Green Bay, and he seems like a great guy to have on a team."

    Said coach Leslie Frazier: "We're really excited about the fact that he brings high character. He's a tremendous athlete. We all know that. But what he'll bring to our locker room, the energy that he'll bring to what we do at practice along with his leadership, those were all qualities we were looking for when we talked with Greg."

    Jennings dined with Frazier, Spielman, offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave and defensive end Jared Allen at a downtown steakhouse on Thursday night before the two sides got down to business on Friday.

    Jennings said he and his wife quickly felt as if they were part of a family. The Vikings were the only team he visited, and he said he had an inkling on his way to Minnesota that this would be where he ended up.

    "I definitely wanted to know that they wanted me," he said. "I wanted to feel that they wanted me to be a part of what they were doing and a part of the future. And I got that feeling early and I got that feeling quite often."

  5. #5
    Jennings signs on as Vikings' No. 1 receiver
    Posted by: Mark Craig under Vikings, NFC, Packers, Super Bowl, Brett Favre, Ryan Longwell, Sidney Rice Updated: March 15, 2013 - 6:48 PM 108 comments print share

    Every three or four years, a former Packers star decides to come west and bail the Vikings out of a gigantic jam.

    Ryan Longwell filled a gaping hole at kicker in 2006 and went on to post six successful seasons. Brett Favre stepped in for a QB-starved outfit in 2009 and led it to within seconds of a Super Bowl. And now former Packers receiver Greg Jennings has signed on with a Vikings team that's bone dry at receiver and hasn't had a legitimate No. 1 wideout since Sidney Rice was catching passes from Favre in 2009. Jennings' deal is for five years, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

    Jennings doesn't fit Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman's normal parameters for a free agent. Jennings will turn 30 in September and has missed 11 games because of knee and core muscle injuries over the past two seasons.

    But here's what Jennings is: Productive. Although he caught only 36 passes for 366 yards and four touchdowns in 2012, he did post 1,100-yard seasons from 2008 to 2010.

    Jennings will be introduced during a press conference at Winter Park at 7:15 p.m. We'll have more later this evening.

  6. #6
    Vikings' newcomer Jennings: 'I can definitely still do it'
    Posted by: Mark Craig under The draft, Vikings, NFC, Packers, Leslie Frazier, Adrian Peterson, Jared Allen, Leslie Frazier Updated: March 15, 2013 - 8:21 PM 28 comments print share

    Some highlights from tonight's press conference to introduce receiver Greg Jennings, who left the Packers today to sign a five-year, $47.5 million deal with $18 million guaranteed:
    General Manager Rick Spielman on a what was a very busy first week of free agency: "This has been a very exciting week for the Minnesota Vikings. ... Going forward, we'll continue to look at the [unrestricted free agent] market, but we're really going to hone in [on the draft]. I'm very excited about this next process of making the Minnesota Vikings better, and that's the draft coming up."
    Coach Leslie Frazier on what Jennings brings to the team: "It really pumps some energy into our building, into our football team as well. It’s a great day for the Minnesota Vikings. There's no question about it. He's a young man that we have tried to corral for a number of years as we've tried to defend him. We're looking forward to a lot of great days. He brings a lot more to the table than just his athletic ability on the football field. We're really excited about the fact that he brings high character. What he'll bring to our locker room, the energy he'll bring to what we do in practice, along with his leadership, those were all qualities we were looking for."
    Jennings' initial remarks: "Today is a great day. I’m looking forward to what the future holds. As a Viking."
    On what he was looking for from the Vikings: "No. 1, I definitely wanted to know that they wanted me. I wanted to feel that they wanted me to be a part of what they were doing and a part of their future. And I got that feeling early and I got that feeling quite often. It didn't take long for that to surface and show itself."
    On leaving the Packers: "I have the utmost respect for the Green Bay Packers organization. [General Manager] Ted Thompson, Coach [Mike] McCarthy, all those guys who I came out with on these grounds and tried to get wins against the Vikings, I have the utmost respect for. I'm very appreciative, but it is a business. This has happened before. I'm not the first Packer to jump on this side, so that makes it a little bit more relieving. It's exciting. It'll be business as usually. Obviously, it will be a little bit more meaningful to get a win over those guys than probably any other game on the schedule."
    On Thursday night's dinner, which included Vikings DE Jared Allen: "I sat down at dinner and they had Jared there. You guys know what Jared Allen is and what he brings to the table. It was a family feel. It felt comfortable and that's what you're looking for. You're looking for something that's going to kind of fit like a glove. Something you're going to be able to step into and be able to be yourself and obviously be able to thrive. This is a situation where I feel I'll be able to be myself and be able to thrive."
    What he was looking for in his next team: "From a football perspect, obviously, when you start to age and get years under your belt, you want to go to a team that's still a contender, that has an opportunity to continue to win but the window isn't closing, it's opening up. I saw that with this ballclub last year. They kind of snuck up on everyone, including the Packers. It's exciting to see what they bring to the table. For me to be a part of this, I'm excited to add what they've already brought to the table, to those 10 wins. Hopefully we can get 11, 12, 13, who knows. From a football standpoint and from a selfish standpoint as a receiver, you see a guy like All-Day [Adrian Peterson] sitting in that backfield and you see the cluster of guys gathered in the box for him, there's going to be some special things taking place on the football field. As a receiver, you always talk about about playing with a back like that. Standing on the other sideline, you're in awe of what this guy can do. And everyone knows he's going to get the ball. Just to be able to take some of the pressure off of him and off of this offense, I hope to be able to do that."
    His thoughts on Christian Ponder: "I think it’s going to be a great deal. I think it’s a maturation process. He's gone through that and he's going to continue to go through that. We all continue to go through it. We all strive to be a better player year in and year out. It's no different with Christian. What I've seen on film, he didn’t have a lot of options to go to. No disrespect to the guys he was throwing the ball to, but you can just get a sense that he needed a little more around him to give him some help. Hopefully I can help him out a little bit and hopefully we can continue to add some pieces around him to make him the quarterback that he can potentially be. You can't just be one-dimensional in this league and be successful."
    More on leaving the Packers and being `only' 29: "I'm excited. I was looking for change. I gave Green Bay seven good years. They were seven great years for myself. We had a lot of success. It was great. But at the same time, [they had] a lot of young talent, the injury kind of hurt me last year, getting shuffled around a little bit. As a competitor, I'm someone who wants to still be on the field and feels he can still do it. I can definitely still do it. I can definitely still make plays. I can be as exciting as I was in my earlier years. And I'm not old. I'm 29. I'm not old. Let me throw that out there. I am 29 years old. I will not be 30 until after the [season] starts."

  7. #7
    Now a Viking, Jennings eager to work on chemistry with Ponder
    Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune Updated: March 16, 2013 - 7:54 AM
    Greg Jennings is the latest Packer to fill a huge void on the Vikings.

    Never fear. There’s always a Packers star willing to come here.

    In 2006, the Vikings were desperate for a kicker. Enter Ryan Longwell, Green Bay’s all-time leading scorer. In 2009, the Vikings were even more desperate at quarterback. Hello, Brett Favre.

    Friday morning, the Vikings had four receivers with a grand total of 126 career catches and no Percy Harvin, who had been booted one way to Seattle four days earlier. By Friday evening, they had gotten down on one very desperate knee — at least figuratively, we think — and presented Greg Jennings, one of the best receivers in Packers history, with a five-year, $47.5 million proposal that includes $18 million guaranteed.

    He said yes. And that sent smiles and fist pumps throughout the Vikings organization.

    “It’s a great day for the Minnesota Vikings,” coach Leslie Frazier said. “He’s a young man that we have tried to corral for a number of years. We’re looking forward to a lot of great days with him.”

    Against him, the Vikings were 4-11 in 15 meetings over seven seasons. Jennings grabbed 68 catches for 1,018 yards and 10 touchdowns, making the Vikings regret biannually the day they drafted center Ryan Cook two spots before the Packers selected Jennings 52nd overall in 2007. Ouch.

    Frazier also said something Friday that wasn’t an intentional slight against Harvin. But it still sounded like a perfect saga-ending twist on the messy divorce between the Vikings and their ultra-talented, perpetually unhappy former receiver.

    “Greg brings a lot more to the table than just his athletic ability,” Frazier said. “We’re really excited about the fact that he brings high character. What he’ll bring to our locker room, the energy he’ll bring to what we do in practice, along with his leadership, those were all qualities we were looking for.”

    Initially, the Vikings weren’t expected to dip into the free agent pool with an offer as hefty as one that averages out to $9.5 million a year. Especially for a player who turns 30 in September and has missed 11 games because of knee and core muscle injuries the past two seasons.

    But the Harvin trade changed everything. Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman needed Jennings to improve the team’s woeful passing attack and give Christian Ponder a chance to become the franchise quarterback the Vikings think he can and Harvin thinks he can’t.

    “I’m a very strong believer in building through the draft,” Spielman said. “But every once in a while, something unique will come about and you just want to make sure to get that player here.”

    After voicing his respect for the Packers organization, Jennings talked about looking for a change after an injury-marred 2012 season and “getting shuffled around a little bit” because of Green Bay’s talented young receiving corps.

    “I can definitely still make plays,” Jennings said. “I can be as exciting as I was in my earlier years. I’m not old. I’m 29. I’m not old. Let me throw that out there. I am 29 years old. I will not be 30 until after the [season] starts.”

    Jennings ranks in the top seven in Packers history in catches (425, seventh), receiving yards (6,537, seventh) and receiving touchdowns (53, fifth). He spanned two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks, catching Favre’s 421st touchdown pass, which broke Dan Marino’s NFL record in a win at the Metrodome, and Aaron Rodgers’ first career touchdown pass.

    Now, he’s paired with Ponder, who struggled often during his first two NFL seasons. Jennings admitted that he had to study Ponder’s game film closely before considering the Vikings.

    “I had to see what I was getting myself into,” Jennings said.

    While Harvin reportedly wanted out of Minnesota in part because he lacked confidence in Ponder, Jennings said he saw an athletic quarterback who has what it takes to get better.

    “What I’ve seen on film, he didn’t have a lot of options to go to,” Jennings said. “No disrespect to the guys he was throwing the ball to, but you can just get a sense that he needed a little more around him to give him some help.”

  8. #8
    Simpson needs to be our 4th receiver when the season starts. He was a cheap signing this season and last, but he didn't even earn those contracts. Obviously this is his last chance in the NFL. If he can't do it now, when could he do it?

  9. #9
    As Greg Jennings was introduced to the local media on Friday night, talking about his reasons for leaving the Green Bay Packers for the Vikings, I kept thinking about Brett Favre.

    The receiver and the quarterback will always be linked for more reasons than their respective places on both sides of the Vikings-Packers rivalry. Jennings caught the touchdown pass from Favre that helped him break Dan Marino’s career touchdown pass record against the Vikings in the Metrodome in Sept. 2007. He hauled in one of the most iconic passes of Favre’s career — an 82-yard overtime touchdown on “Monday Night Football” a month later in Denver. And as one of the few receivers who played with both Favre and Aaron Rodgers, he was rarely shy about comparing the two, making headlines a few times when he did so.

    But Jennings — the latest in a long line of ex-Packers to depart for Minnesota — made a bit of a callback to Favre when he said “I’m not the first player to jump over to this side.” Jennings didn’t even come close to approaching the resentment Favre carried with him when he arrived in Minnesota in 2009, but some of his comments on Friday night let on that the receiver was feeling underappreciated and unwanted in Green Bay.

    The most interesting thing he said, I thought, was this: “Again, I was looking for change. Again, Green Bay has given me, I gave them 7 good years, They were 7 great years for myself. I had a lot of success. Obviously we were able to win and it was great. But at the same time, a lot of young talent, injuries kind of hurt me last year and getting shuffled around a little bit. And as a player, as a competitor I’ll say, someone who wants to be on the field all the time and feels like he can still do it. I can definitely still do it. I can definitely still make plays and be as exciting as I was in my earlier years.”

    Read the last two lines of that quote again. Couldn’t you imagine Favre saying those words in 2009? Like the quarterback, Jennings seemed miffed by the idea that he would be pushed aside by the Packers’ habitual reliance on younger players and general manager Ted Thompson’s coldly efficient way of doing business. The Vikings have adopted some of the Packers’ principles on building through the draft and spending judiciously, but like they did with Favre, they acquired Jennings out of a belief that he could help take a good team to the next level.

    And while Jennings certainly didn’t have the demigod status that Favre once enjoyed in the minds of Packers fans, he was a popular, successful player whose departure should stoke a rivalry that already appeared to be on its way back up.

    The Packers-Vikings rivalry is typically at its best when both teams are competitive, and when there’s something to give it a little extra spice, like Favre’s misadventures in the Metrodome in the 1990s, Randy Moss pretending to moon the Lambeau Field crowd during the 2005 NFC wild card playoffs, Jared Allen’s battles with Rodgers or the border-hopping of various players — especially Favre.

    The rivalry had lost a little something by the end of 2010, when the Vikings hunkered into rebuilding while the Packers won the Super Bowl, but it seemed to regain its spark through the teams’ two December duels and their second-ever playoff matchup at Lambeau Field.

    Now, the Vikings have added Jennings to an improving roster, and the Packers are adjusting to the departures of three mainstays — Jennings, Donald Driver and Charles Woodson.

    It wouldn’t be surprising to see a Vikings-Packers matchup back in prime time next season, especially after their scintillating Week 17 duel at the Metrodome. It wouldn’t be a stretch to imagine the two teams fighting for the NFC North title.

    And thanks to Jennings sounding a few notes from Favre’s old riffs on Friday, it wouldn’t be hard to imagine the rivalry regaining a little of that edge it hasn’t had since the quarterback retired

  10. #10
    Jennings wanted a fresh start
    Article by: DAN WIEDERER , Star Tribune Updated: March 16, 2013 - 11:27 PM
    The signing of the wide receiver capped a huge week for the team.

    By the time Greg Jennings left his home in Michigan on Thursday, destined for a career-changing job interview in the Twin Cities, he knew exactly what he was seeking.

    Jennings wanted a fresh start.

    He has no problems admitting that, even after the seven productive seasons he enjoyed in Green Bay, putting himself on the map as a premier NFL receiver.

    But Jennings also wanted to know a marriage with the Vikings would feel right.

    He wanted to get a sense for whether his talents could be utilized properly. He wanted to believe that he could develop rapport with quarterback Christian Ponder.

    As much as anything, Jennings wanted to feel wanted.

    So when he arrived in town Thursday?

    “I got that feeling early,” he said. “And I got that feeling quite often.”

    How could Jennings not feel wanted by a Vikings organization that had started the week by express-mailing Percy Harvin to Seattle in the week’s biggest trade?

    How could he not feel loved by a team that had the 31st-ranked passing attack in 2012 and set out this offseason to fix that?

    It was no major surprise, then, that a truly chaotic week ended Friday night at Winter Park with Jennings feeling surprisingly comfortable in the team colors he had recently told Packers teammate James Jones he never could envision himself wearing.

    Yet there he was — big smile, reliable hands, positive energy and all.

    Jennings was now a Viking.

    “Hey,” he said. “Minnesota stepped up to the plate.”

    Just here to help

    Jennings had so many reasons for his grin. There was, of course, the five-year contract, reportedly worth as much as $47.5 million.

    But there were 508 additional reasons for excitement — as in the 508 yards NFL MVP Adrian Peterson gashed Green Bay for in three games last season.

    Jennings not only took note of that production, he was constantly aware of how defenses attacked the Vikings, frequently loading eight and nine defenders into the box and leaving ample opportunity for receivers to take advantage over the top.

    Peterson’s presence certainly didn’t hurt the Vikings during a 24-hour hard sell to Jennings that both sides wanted to end the same way.

    “Standing on the other sideline, you’re in awe of what this guy can do,” Jennings said. “And everyone knows he’s going to get the ball. So just to be able to take some of that pressure off him and off of this offense, I hope to be able to do that.”

    Jennings’ signing certainly took significant pressure off Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman, who had a master plan for this offseason all along, even if impatient fans couldn’t understand or tolerate his methodical approach during a hyperactive week in which so many other teams struck it big early in free agency.

    The Vikings needed so much help at receiver. Everyone knew it. And yet Mike Wallace quickly signed in Miami. Wes Welker went to Denver. Danny Amendola became a Patriot, Donnie Avery a Chief and Brandon Gibson a Dolphin.

    Through 72 hours of free agency, the Vikings’ only receiving move was the re-signing of Jerome Simpson.

    One out, one in

    Spielman never had planned to rush into things. He had reached out to Jennings’ agent during a new NFL contact period last weekend, asking to be kept in the loop on the receiver’s plans.

    The Vikings’ push intensified after the Harvin trade. So by the time Spielman finally reeled Jennings in for a late-week visit — dinner at Manny’s on Thursday, a long day of discussions Friday — the GM knew he could ill afford to let Jennings flounder out of the boat.

    Still, there was another factor to measure.

    “We can want a player here,” Spielman said. “But we want to make sure the player wants to be here as well.”

    Whether that was meant as a veiled jab at Harvin and his unfortunate departure is unknown. But Spielman and Frazier have spent the past 14 months unifying a vision to build around a certain brand of player.

    Yes, Harvin’s passion and toughness were universally admired. But his occasional volcanic eruptions of immaturity — too many to count over four seasons — led to a severely fractured relationship that convinced the star receiver and the franchise that ultimately they’d be better off apart.

    Even with Spielman’s public declarations that he had “no intent to trade Percy Harvin,” speculation percolated for weeks. Those searching for signs Harvin’s time as a Viking had ended found clues in the promotional poster the Vikings put out recently for season tickets.

    The ad featured five of the team’s biggest standouts. But no Harvin. That had to be a tell, right?

    Yet even presence on that poster wasn’t a guarantee of job security. Cornerback Antoine Winfield, a 14-year veteran who had infused his toughness, savvy and charisma into the franchise for nine seasons, got the nod for the season-ticket campaign then received an unceremonious dismissal from Spielman in the final hour before free agency began last week.

    With the money Spielman needed for his 2013 roster-building plan, Winfield’s $7.25 million salary felt like too much to invest in a 35-year-old cornerback who seemed bound for a reduced role.

    But even if there was business savvy behind the move, by Tuesday night the Vikings had overshadowed the re- signing of six in-house free agents with moves to get rid of their best receiver and the defense’s emotional leader.

    The Harvin trade sent league MVP Adrian Peterson to Twitter noting, “I feel like I just got kicked in the stomach. Several times!!!”

    Defensive end Brian Robison was vacationing in Cancun when he learned of Winfield’s release, again reminded of the transaction tornado that blasts through the league every March.

    “Life in the NFL, man, it’s a scary, scary deal,” Robison said. “Even on vacation, I’m wanting to sit back and have fun. But you start seeing guys getting traded and released and you have that fear that you’re going to be the next guy. That stress can be enormous if you think about it too long.”

    Big picture

    Still, a view of the big picture is required.

    The Harvin trade landed the Vikings first- and seventh-round picks for April’s draft plus a third-rounder next year.

    Spielman insists he couldn’t pass up that package, a haul that will allow the Vikings to draft players at Nos. 23 and 25 next month.

    A year ago, Spielman maneuvered his way into a pair of first-round picks and wound up snaring difference-making starters on both offense (left tackle Matt Kalil) and defense (safety Harrison Smith).

    So you can imagine the eagerness to score another exacta payday on April 25.

    New players will arrive. Old teammates may disappear.

    Anything’s possible.

    Like a longtime Packers standout again migrating west to become a Viking.

    To feel fully comfortable with that move, Jennings made sure to review film. He threw the Vikings’ tape on, he said, not so much to analyze intricacies in coordinator Bill Musgrave’s offense but rather to zero in exclusively on Ponder.

    “I had to see what I was getting myself into,” Jennings admitted.

    He had, after all, spent his first seven seasons catching passes from Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers.

    In Ponder, Jennings said, he saw an athletic young quarterback with great potential — if only he had more help.

    In the Vikings, Jennings sees a team on the rise.

    “You want to go to a team that’s still a contender, that has an opportunity to win but the window isn’t closing. The window is opening up. And I saw that with this ballclub last year. They kind of snuck up on everybody.”

    Dan Wiederer • 612-673-7900

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