In this episode of “What were they thinking?!”, we take a look at Greg Jennings and his decision to play for the Minnesota Vikings.
Recent news has surfaced that Jennings received an offer from Green Bay for around $8 million per season and actually also had an offer of around $6 million per year from the New England Patriots.
Instead of taking either offer, Jennings went where he would receive the most money and got $9.5 million per season for the next five years.
What would cause a wide receiver of Jennings’ caliber to choose a team that has won only 19 games over the past three seasons over two teams that have 75 wins, five division crowns, and a Super Bowl win between them in those same three years?
In my mind the difference in pay is not enough to merit the move from Green Bay to Minnesota. The difference between $40 million and $47.5 million over a five-year period does not seem to be enough of a financial gain to push Jennings to pick Christian Ponder over Aaron Rodgers.
So what was Jennings thinking?
I have boiled it down in my mind to one of two possibilities. The first, and the option that I am willing to believe, is that Jennings wanted to be “the guy”. Sure, Adrian Peterson is going to be the guy in the ground attack, but that just means Jennings will likely see more single coverage as defenses put eight men in the box.
In 2012 Jennings was injured for much of the season. In 2011 Jordy Nelson had a breakout campaign and while he had only one more reception that Jennings, he finished with over 300 more receiving yards and six more touchdown receptions.
In 2009 even though Jennings led the team in receiving yards, Donald Driver, Jermichael Finley, and James Jones each had more touchdowns than Jennings did. So other than a successful 2010 season where Jennings appeared to be “the guy”, he has recently played second fiddle or simply been a part of a much bigger thing.
At some point in a player's career there is that desire to want the fame and the recognition. I have a feeling that Jennings, while enjoying the wins that Green Bay had, would have loved to have someone point the finger at him and say “that guy is why we are winning games”.
But in the land of the Cheeseheads, no one player is given all the glory and no one player is given the blame. It is truly a team sport (perhaps Tony Romo and the Cowboys should take notes).
So I think one of the possibilities if that Jennings is ready to be pointed at as the hero of a game. He is ready to see 150 targets come his way while no one else nears half of that. He is ready to team up with Megatron and Julio Jones in the pro-bowl after each of them hits 1500 yards and 12+ scores. He is ready.
The other option that I gasp at the thought of is that Greg Jennings actually believes that the Vikings can not only win the division, but make a run at the Super Bowl. He sees the jump in wins from three in 2011 to 10 in 2012 and thinks that maybe he is the missing piece in the development of a young quarterback.
Maybe he actually believes that having a deep threat will open the ground game up even more for AP. Maybe he expect that Kyle Rudolph will be a top three tight end (he did have nine scores last year) and that the Vikings are a few big plays away from being a 12-4 team. Maybe.
Greg, if that is what you are thinking then wake up. It is still Minnesota. You will be playing six games against a division that goes down swinging in every contest.
Your two games against your old team will be just as much of a chance for Heyward, Tramon Williams, and the rest of the secondary to pick off Ponder as you stand in the end zone wondering why that pass wasn’t thrown three feet higher. You will soon realize that 10 wins was a miracle during a near record-breaking season for possibly the greatest comeback by a running back of all time.
So what was Jennings thinking? Maybe his joints just started hurting and he wanted to play in a dome. That might be reason enough to pass on Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady and choose to be “the guy” in the land of Purple and Gold.