Well, those who thought the Vikings didn’t re-sign Percy Harvin because they wouldn’t match the five-year, $65.5 million contract Seattle was willing to pay him learned money wasn’t the problem Friday when the team signed former Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings for a contract that allows him to earn a maximum of $47.5 million over five years, with $18 million guaranteed.
Harvin’s contract has a guarantee of $25.5 million.
If Jennings doesn’t get injured, he has a good chance to earn at least $27 million over the first three years of the deal and even more if he makes the Pro Bowl.
The Vikings must have set some kind of record when it came to spending for free agents when they first signed offensive tackle Phil Loadholt to a four-year, $25 million contract and then added quarterback Matt Cassel for two years, with it voided after next season, guaranteed for $3.7 million for the first year.
That money was a lot more than was expected for the Vikings to spend so early in free agency.
The person who benefitted the most from all three signings has to be quarterback Christian Ponder.
The addition of Jennings gives him the first-class receiver he didn’t have after Harvin got hurt.
The signing of Loadholt means the offensive line that protected him so well last year will return intact.
And finally, the signing of Cassel will give Ponder a veteran quarterback who has been a starter for Kansas City and New England and can share the knowledge he has picked up as a starting quarterback the past five seasons.
“You can just get the sense that he needed a little more around him to give him some help,” Jennings said about Ponder. “Hopefully I can help him a bit.”
Vikings offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave pointed that out when Cassel was signed. Certainly 2012 backup quarterback Joe Webb was in no position to help Ponder with the lack of experience he had playing in the NFL.
Vikings will face Harvin, Seahawks
Entering Week 9 of the NFL season, Harvin had 60 receptions to be tied for the league lead, was second in receiving yards and kickoff average return and it was at Seattle where the new Seahawks wide receiver was injured last season.
Now it is going to be interesting, because the Vikings play at Seattle again this year when Harvin will be on the opposing side. The date hasn’t been set here.
Incidentally Russell Wilson, the former Badgers quarterback who had a great year in Seattle, is being paid $750,000 for the next two seasons. Sidney Rice, the former Vikings receiver now with Seattle, recently signed for five years at $41 million.
Where will Gray play?
Former Gophers quarterback MarQueis Gray has been speculating about what position he might play in the NFL.
“I’ve been hearing is I’m probably going to be doing a lot of stand-up tight-end type, being that move-around guy,” Gray said. “[An] H-back tight end, so I’m doing a lot of work now to get myself ready for that, as well as running routes and throwing the ball in case different types of teams have different perspectives on how they want to use me.
“I’ve been playing quarterback all my life so I’m always going to love playing quarterback. Secondly, I would say wide receiver because I’ve been doing that more than tight end. I just recently started doing tight end and I’m getting the hang of it, getting down in the three-point stance, but I’m willing to do all three of those positions if need be.”
Great athlete in Budish
Zach Budish might be the best all-around athlete who ever played hockey for the Gophers. With Edina, Budish was an outstanding baseball player and an all-conference linebacker and was recruited for football by some top colleges.
One thing that hurt the Gophers basketball team is that Julian Welch was the team’s leading three-point shooter last season, but this season he has been shooting under 30 percent and also having problems at the free-throw line, shooting a little better than 50 percent.
The Gophers have one basketball scholarship available for next season and they would like to give it to Gavin Schilling of Findlay Prep School in Las Vegas, who has made two trips to the Gophers campus. However Schilling, who will announce his decision on where he will go to school Wednesday, is likely to go to Michigan State because his family lives close in Chicago. Villanova and Minnesota were the other schools on his final list.
The Timberwolve launched their new season ticket campaign March 4 and have already sold 200 new season tickets. The Wolves aim is to sell 2,000 new season tickets for the fourth consecutive season, being of one three NBA teams to accomplish that.
Ex-Gophers wide receiver Eric Decker had a fantastic season with the Broncos. Can you imagine how the addition of former Patriots star Wes Welker will open things up even more for Decker?
Two former Vikings were offered contracts to come back with the teams they played with the past season. Bryant McKinney accepted the invitation to return with the Ravens, while Randy Moss turned down an offer from the 49ers.
• The Viking assistant coaching staff, all with one-year contracts, likely will not change much before the 2013 season except former assistant receivers coach Ryan Ficken will replace Chris White, who is joining the Iowa staff, and Jeff Howard, a former assistant at Texas Tech, will replace Cam Turner as the assistant to head coach Leslie Frazier.
• Gophers football coach Jerry Kill on players who could miss spring practice: “Right now we’re in a situation where we’re trying to heal up. [Tackle] Eddie Olson won’t go through spring, he had ankle surgery during the offseason, which he is doing very well off that. [Offensive lineman] Zach Mottla is certainly still recovering [broken bone in leg] and won’t go through spring. [Receiver] Andre McDonald won’t go through spring, a personal situation, look forward to having him back maybe in May. Then we have [receiver] Marcus Jones and three or four other ones that have ACL situations, so they’ll get some practice time.”
• The Gopher football coaches were eager to get a good look at Brian Bobek, who transferred from Ohio State to Minnesota. But Bobek, who could be a candidate for starting center, sprained his ankle in a personal workout and it could be some time before he is healthy.
• The Gophers football program hasn’t had much luck recruiting outstanding players from Cretin-Derham Hall, but they might be in the running for outstanding sophomore defensive end Jashon Cornell, who has made some visits to the Minnesota campus and is a close personal friend of Minneapolis Washburn running back Jeff Jones, who already has committed to Minnesota.