Every now and then, your NFC North blogger is out of position on a deep throw. When ESPN's Adam Schefter first reported Greg Jennings' contract agreement with the Minnesota Vikings, I wasn't exactly positioned at blog headquarters. I wrote my reaction column from an undisclosed remote location, tuning out an encore presentation of "The Lion King" in the process, and at this late hour I have a few more thoughts to add:
Honesty: After watching an archived video of Jennings' news conference, one quote struck me among all others. Asked about quarterback Christian Ponder's inconsistent career, Jennings said in part: "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 get the sense that he needed a little more around him to get some help." I can't argue with that well-spoken but blunt assessment. We all agree that great quarterbacks can elevate receivers, but opinions are split on whether great receivers can improve a quarterback. My take: Ponder has no shot without a credible group of receivers. So by default, Jennings will help him.
A.D.: A few of you pointed out an omission from my earlier column: The impact of tailback Adrian Peterson's presence. Jennings noted in his news conference that all receivers dream of running routes against defenses who are focused on the running back. Jennings should see a significant difference. Since 2007, when Peterson entered the NFL, the Vikings have run a league-high 1,013 plays against defenses with at least eight men in the box, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The league average over that period is 634, and the Packers have run 569. That's a quantitative view of one advantage Jennings will have in Minnesota.
Dollars and sense: Jennings' five-year deal is worth a maximum of $47.5 million, according to ESPN's Josina Anderson. Technically, that is a healthy average of $9.5 million. We'll see in a few days, when the final numbers are available, how difficult it will be for him to attain that full amount. What we do know is that he will get at least $27 million over the next three seasons, $18 million of which is guaranteed. That's a near-identical haul as his previous contract from the Packers, which he signed in the summer of 2010. Most successful NFL players get one really big contract, usually their second. Jennings split his big contract into two parts. Viewed another way, it's as if he will have played out a six-year deal worth $54 million.
Feeling wanted: Jennings spoke repeatedly about a theme we hear often. In essence, he wanted some love from somebody. It was fair to infer he did not think the Packers wanted him back, at least not badly enough. Presumably, if they really wanted him back, the Packers would have signed him prior to free agency. But I will say this: The Vikings must have been convinced the Packers were expressing some level of interest. Otherwise, they wouldn't have felt it necessary to offer a $9.5 million annual salary at a time when free agent receivers were fetching closer to $6 million annually.
Details: Jennings will wear No. 15, his number at Western Michigan.
OK. Enough for now. Have a pleasant (late) night.