Written By Sal Conti follow on Twitter @SC2sports
How much does the Greg Jennings signing help the Minnesota Vikings?
Late Friday night, the Minnesota Vikings signed former Green Bay Packer wide receiver Greg Jennings to a five year, $47.5 million deal with $18 million guaranteed. A rare in-division signing that not only benefit the Vikings, but will be extremely costly for Aaron Rodgers and company. Not only will Green Bay lose the veteran leadership of Jennings, but they’ll also see him at least twice next year, wearing a purple jersey.
How does this impact the growth of a Minnesota offense that recently lost Percy Harvin? Let’s see.
Jennings had a very injury-ridden season in his last year in Green Bay. He only had 36 receptions in 8 games. Whenever he did play however, defenses focused in on him to make sure he couldn’t make big plays which helped to explained his mediocre 366 yards.
His one BIG game last year came against his new team. On a day where Adrian Peterson willed the Purple People Eaters to a victory, and almost captured the single season rushing record, Greg caught 8 balls on 12 targets for 120 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns. To put that in perspective, around 40% of Greg’s total fantasy production this past season came in that last regular season game against the Vikings.
As the off-season set in about a month ago, the Vikings front office likely reviewed who their receivers were, how they did statistically, and assessed who they should pick up knowing that Percy Harvin was on his way out. Who else to sign than the receiver who’s given your secondary headaches for years.
Greg Jennings will immediately make a fantasy impact on the Vikings offense. For starters, having an elite receiver on the field for quarterback Christian Ponder will instantly improve his hideous 172 passing yards per game, and might even put him in the low end QB2 conversation if he continues to develop as a passer (just don’t be super sure about that, I hear Minnesota may run the ball a bit this year).
From 2008-2010 Jennings accrued 3,670 receiving yards. This was 30% of Aaron Rodgers total passing yards in that same time span. He was the ‘rock’ that Rodgers leaned on in order to flourish into the elite quarterback he is now. Greg Jennings is the equivalent to a dog in the NFL: a quarterback’s best friend.
I’m gonna lean on this dog reference for a couple more sentences, so bare with me.
Vikings fans hope that Jennings will be obedient to Christian Ponder just as he was to Aaron Rodgers. While Ponder’s stats might not make you jump and roll over, he doesn’t need to become the next elite quarterback. All he needs is a receiver with experience and talent. Greg Jennings has won a ring, has played with the best of them, and he has a serious chance to do special things in Minny.
With all due respect to Percy Harvin, one of my favorite Vikings ever, Greg Jennings is by far the best “true” receiver Minnesota has seen in years. His combination of crisp route running, speed, toughness and veteran savvy will work wonders for the men in purple. What really stands out between Jennings and Harvin is that Jennings is capable of stretching the field better than Harvin is. Last season, 33 of Harvin’s 62 catches were screen passes. Not to say that they were ineffective, as Harvin averaged 9 YPC and scored twice on those passes, but Jennings can hurt a defense from a variety of pass lengths.
During the 2011 season, Jennings had at least 10 passes in all of the following areas: screen passes, passes up to 10 yards, and passes from 11-20 yards totaling 640 yards. His remaining 309 yards were gained on deep routes over 20 yards. This route flexibility will help develop Christian Ponder and give tight end Kyle Rudolph the opportunity to take advantage of his obvious mismatch in open-field coverage.
What’s a Viking’s article without mentioning Adrian Peterson? (In my opinion) The best running back in the world was quoted as saying he felt like he had been “kicked in the gut” after finding out Percy Harvin was traded. The signing of Greg Jennings must’ve felt like some TUMS and a long day’s rest! Jennings’ versatility in the passing game will keep defenses off balanced. Adrian will strongly benefit from teams no longer ‘stacking the box’ with secondary defenders. If they do, Jennings will have no problem gathering chunks of yards at will. Peterson is obviously a RB1 in all formats next season, and I see him cruising to be the #1 fantasy running back again next season.
The Greg Jennings signing was huge by Minnesota. They signed a veteran with big game experience and production. Their biggest rival no longer has their best receiving target who made a living ripping the Viking’s heart out twice a year.
Look for Jennings to be a low end WR1 in most fantasy formats this season.