The consensus among football pundits was that the Percy Harvin trade meant that the Vikings would make a hard push for a top free agent wide receiver. Friday afternoon, football pundits were proven right when ex-Green Bay Packer wide receiver Greg Jennings agreed to 5-year contract worth $47.5 million.
This is a major signing by the Vikings, one that benefits them in multiple ways. First, it gives them flexibility in the upcoming NFL Entry Draft. They’ll still likely use a high pick to draft another wide receiver to complement Jennings and second year pro Jarius Wright.
Second, the Vikings can now use both of their first round picks, including the 25th pick they got in the Harvin trade, on defensive help. They have needs at linebacker, defensive tackle and defensive end. The good news for the Vikings on this front is that this draft is deep in defensive tackles and pass rushing defensive ends, though it’s admittedly a bit thin in the linebacking department.
Third, Greg Jennings has been a great veteran presence in the locker room and in the film study room. He’ll be a mentor and a leader from the first day of organized team activities, aka OTAs.
Fourth, he’s a character guy, something that couldn’t be said about Percy Harvin. Whereas Harvin was known to have temper tantrums, Jennings has a history of being a calming influence in the locker room.
In that respect, Jennings is the opposite of Harvin.
Fifth, Jennings said that he can’t wait to dig into the Vikings playbook so he can learn the assignments for each of the receiving positions. Whereas Harvin was a great slot receiver, something he excelled at, Jennings was great wherever the Packers plugged him in at. The versatility Jennings brings to the offense is a definite plus.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the man who broke the Jennings signing story, says that the Vikings have done a great job this offseason. Their record bears that out. They’ve signed a talented pass catcher. They’ve traded away a talented, though temperamental, pass catcher in the last year of his contract for a king’s ransom of draft picks.
They’ve kept their talented offensive line intact by signing offensive tackle Phil Loadholt to a 4-year contract extension and Pro Bowl fullback Jerome Felton to a three-year extension.
With multiple picks in the first, fourth and seventh rounds, as well as picks in the second, third, fifth and sixth rounds, the Vikings are poised to restock their lineup.
That sounds like a team who’s window of opportunity is opening, not closing.