GREEN BAY – Greg Jennings’ time with the Green Bay Packers is over. And, after reportedly agreeing to terms on a five-year deal with the Minnesota Vikings Friday evening, his former team can look forward to seeing him twice a year within the NFC North.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter was first to report that Jennings had come to terms with the Vikings, an agreement that came after Jennings dined with Vikings officials on Thursday night and spent all day Friday at the Vikings’ Winter Park facility. An NFL source confirmed that Jennings had indeed agreed to a deal with the Packers' rivals.
Jennings, 29, began free agency seeking a deal worth $11 million to $12 million per year. ESPN's Josina Anderson, citing a source, said the deal could be worth a maximum of $47.5 million and included a $18 million in guaranteed money. One NFL source said earlier in the week that the Packers extended an offer to Jennings “a while ago” – last summer or fall – that averaged roughly $10 million per year.
Another NFL source had said Jennings and the Packers had been in talks before his visit to the Twin Cities, but it’s unclear whether Jennings was actually considering a return to Green Bay or was simply using the Packers’ interest as leverage with the Vikings. Jennings’ agent, Eugene Parker, also represents running back Steven Jackson, who spurned the Packers to sign with the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday. It was widely believed that Jackson intended to play for the Falcons all along.
The Packers essentially spent half of last season without Jennings, who suffered a lower abdominal muscle tear in the regular-season opener against San Francisco. Including playoffs, he ended up playing only 531 snaps, roughly half of the 1,149 played by James Jones, who was the only receiver who stayed healthy for all 18 games. Jennings finished with 36 catches for 366 yards and four touchdowns in regular-season play before catching 10 passes for 115 yards and one TD in the playoffs.
In January, Jennings and his wife Nicole put the family’s house in the Green Bay suburb of De Pere on the market, and after the Packers opted not to use the franchise tag on Jennings, which would have come with a $10.4 million one-year salary, Jennings appeared to be a goner. During an interview with ESPN on Tuesday, he never mentioned the possibility of coming back to the Packers.
At the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis in February, Packers general manager Ted Thompson said in a roundabout way that he hadn’t yet written off Jennings coming back.
“I’m not going to talk about specifically about any of our scheduled to be unrestricted free agents other than to say it is our policy, we think it’s a good way to manage the NFL if you’re able to retain your own players,” Thompson said. “We’d very much like to do that, and that includes Greg.”
Jennings has been realistic from the very beginning of the 2012 season, when he took the fact that the team hadn’t made any effort to sign him to an extension before training camp began as proof that he was playing his final year in Green Bay. He even said as much in a July interview at the start of training camp, and he never really wavered on that position, even as he packed up his belongings after the season-ending loss to the San Francisco 49ers.
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