NFL: Grading the Most Meaningful Free Agent Signings

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Minnesota Signs Greg Jennings 

Greg Jennings has done a lot for the Green Bay Packers, but the Minnesota Vikings may have overvalued his production.

Jan 5, 2013; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings (85) rushes with the ball as Minnesota Vikings safety Mistral Raymond (41) defends during the second quarter of the NFC Wild Card playoff game at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Jennings was inked to a $47.5 million dollar deal over five years, even though he will be 30 in mid-September and caught just 36 passes in 2012. While he only played in eight games, 36 catches in eight games, or 4.5 catches per game, isn’t a lot.

However, the Vikings were willing to look past Jennings’ 2012 struggles and sign the former Packer. Jennings can help make Christian Ponder better by getting open (something he does very well) and becoming one of his favorite targets. Developing chemistry with Ponder would be great, and it could pay dividends for Minnesota.

Bringing in Jennings makes sense for the Vikings, because if Jennings comes out of the gates strong and develops a good relationship with Ponder, it can make Adrian Peterson, Minnesota’s MVP running back who averaged six YPC in 2012, even more effective.

Ponder isn’t an elite quarterback, but having a good receiver can help him take strides. Ponder was 13th in completion percentage and is entering just his third year, so he has potential. Having Jennings should only help, as Ponder should be more effective than ever.

However, there is also a high risk. First of all, the deal was costly. $47.5 million is a lot to invest in an aging player, and it’s safe to assume that the Vikings will regret paying Jennings so much in the future. Jennings averaged just 10.2 yards per catch in 2012, which isn’t good for a receiver. Missing 11 of Green Bay’s last 19 (regular season) games isn’t either, and it brings up concern for an aging receiver.

Jennings has talent, and if he develops good chemistry with Ponder and doesn’t decline, he could be worth his hefty contract. However, the Vikings went overboard with the money and the years here, and while they did a great job filling a need, they could have done it without committing so much money.

Grade: B