Well, it's been about half a day since the Minnesota Vikings finalized things with wide receiver Greg Jennings, and there are plenty of different angles to look at the signing from. A few places throughout the internet have weighed in what they think of the Vikings' new acquisition.
The folks over at SI.com think that the Vikings made a pretty nice move, grading the signing as an A-minus.
The Vikings had a lot of money to burn this offseason and, even before the trade of Harvin, a clear need at wide receiver. Jennings puts them in a much better position heading into the draft. And if they land one or two more options there, a potential positional weakness could become a strength.
Even as one of the more optimistic Vikings fans out there, I'm not sure if the receiver position could go all the way to a "strength" in one off-season. But as long as the group isn't soul-suckingly awful like they were after the Percy Harvin injury last year, that's still a pretty significant step.
Over at Walter Football, on the other hand, they don't like the move quite as much, grading it out as just a C.
Having said all of that, I can totally understand why the Vikings overpaid for Jennings. They were desperate for receiver help, as Jerome Simpson was currently their No. 1 player at the position. The wideout market also dried up in free agency; after Jennings, the next-best receiver was Julian Edelman. That's why it's no surprise that Jennings obtained so much money. Still though, this easily could be a move Minnesota regrets in the near future.
Meh. . .as a lot of people have noted, if the Vikings hadn't gotten Jennings to come in and fill some of the holes at the wide receiver position, the depth chart would have been almost completely barren. Did the Vikings overpay? Yeah, they probably did. But, all things being equal, Jennings was at or near the top of the list of free agent wide receivers this off-season, and the Vikings did the smart thing by getting someone that could come in and make an impact.
I also mentioned yesterday about what sort of influence running back Adrian Peterson might have had on Jennings' decision. When I said that, I meant that he might have spoken to Jennings to convince him to join the Vikings, but ESPN NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert brings up some very interesting numbers that might have something to do with Jennings' thought process.
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.
Oh, and over that time span, Adrian Peterson has the most rushing yards of any running back in football. By a lot. He has 8,849 rushing yards from 2007 to 2012. (And keep in mind that those totals involve the Brett Favre years when this team actually had something resembling a viable passing attack. Well, in one of those two years, anyway.) The next highest total belongs to Steven Jackson and Chris Johnson, who both have 6,888 yards rushing over that time.
So, if teams want to continue stuffing eight guys in the box to deal with Peterson, Jennings. . .contrary to what this team has had the past couple of seasons. . .gives the Vikings someone that can make defenses pay for doing that. Want to throw two guys at Jennings? Well, then Peterson gets to run against a seven-man front, which generally works out in Minnesota's favor. It also means that teams wouldn't be able to double up on Kyle Rudolph, who made significant strides in 2012 and should continue to get better. And lord help everyone if the Vikings can find a reliable option on the other side of the formation, be it Jarius Wright or a resurgent Jerome Simpson or someone acquired in this year's NFL Draft.
From a Viking fan perspective, there's really no reason to feel bad about this move. None. The Vikings saw a need that had to be addressed, and they addressed it in what might have been the best possible way at the present time. Could it potentially blow up in their face? Well, sure it could. . .but you can say that about any free agent move, any draft pick, any trade, whatever you'd like. This one just feels like it's going to work.