Two years ago, the Vikings went after the speedy wide receiver Mike Wallace. Wallace wound up signing with the Miami Dolphins and teaming up with young quarterback Ryan Tannehill, prompting the Vikings to sign Greg Jennings from the Green Bay Packers.
At the time, it seemed like a good idea. With an inexperienced quarterback like Christian Ponder (and one, we now know, they don’t feel comfortable relying on), why wouldn’t the Vikings want a proven, experienced receiver? Up in Green Bay, Jennings registered more than 900 receiving yards in all but two seasons (his rookie year and one in which he only played eight games due to injury) and pulled in fifty-three touchdowns.
The Vikings wound up pouncing on him in free agency after they couldn’t grab Wallace, giving him a contract worth $45 million over five years to be their number one option at wide receiver.
Unfortunately, he hasn’t lived up to the hype. In two seasons, he’s only registered ten touchdowns. While that’s likely due to the fact that he had to try and gel with three different quarterbacks in just his first season, at thirty-two years old, the Vikings wanted to cut ties before surrendering $11 million to this year’s salary cap room. Anyway, these last two years could not have been easy for a guy who has memories from his last team of catching two touchdown passes in the Super Bowl from maybe the best quarterback in the league.
Perhaps by design, all of the guaranteed money in Jennings’ contract was front-loaded in the first two years, so they don’t owe him anything going forward.
In Wallace, the Vikings are getting a receiver who is three years younger and a better fit in Norv Turner’s Air Coryell offense. Wallace is a much quicker receiver who’s known for slashing through opposing teams’ secondaries, helping him to pull down seven more touchdowns since 2009 than Jennings.
By giving up very little for a guy who is younger, faster, and $5 million cheaper, this is a low-risk move for the Vikings that has a good deal of upside.