MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Greg Jennings was comfortable enough in Minnesota to want to settle there after retirement. Mike Wallace was initially disinterested in playing for the Vikings because of the cold climate.
After a pair of sudden roster moves, spicing up an opening week of the NFL’s transactions period that started quietly for the Vikings, Jennings is gone and Wallace has replaced him.READ MORE: Indigenous Bowl Brings 30+ Tribes, Communities Together At U.S. Bank Stadium
The Vikings released Jennings on Saturday, roughly 18 hours after their trade for Wallace was finalized. Jennings would have counted $11 million against their salary cap this year, so after two unremarkable years with the team he was the latest veteran around the league with a big contract to be let go with less than half of the contract length fulfilled.
Wallace likely would have found himself in that situation with Miami, had the Dolphins not dealt him and a seventh-round draft pick for a fifth-round selection from the Vikings. He brought a $9.9 million salary cap hit for 2015, after playing the last two seasons for the Dolphins on a five-year contract worth as much as $60 million with $30 million guaranteed.
However, the Vikings could cut him in 2016 without any cap hit or future financial obligation. Wallace, in a conference call with reporters, said his deal has not been redone.
His outlook on coming to Minnesota has changed after two disappointing seasons with the Dolphins.
The Vikings pursued him in 2013 before signing Jennings when Wallace went with Miami, and Wallace said on Saturday that his decision was based largely on the weather.
“Palm trees versus trees with no leaves, you know?” Wallace said. “And that was then. This was now. I’m excited to be here.”
He said this on a sunny afternoon with the temperature near 60 degrees in Minneapolis, the type of spring conditions that are often in short supply in Minnesota.
“I kind of feel like everybody is trying to trick me and get me to think the weather is nice,” Wallace said. “One of my good friends, Jamarca Sanford, played here. So he told me about the weather. He told me the weather’s not the best, but the people are great.”
The Vikings have one more season outdoors at their temporary home at the University of Minnesota before moving into their new fully covered stadium downtown.
“Mike’s not going to be outside alone. So as long as I look at somebody else and they freezing their tail off, I think I’ll be fine,” Wallace said.READ MORE: Minnesota Weather: Monday Will Be Season's Coldest, With Flash Freeze Causing Icy Commutes
Wallace was benched by Dolphins coach Joe Philbin in the second half of their final game last season after an argument between the 28-year-old and the coaching staff. Wallace led the Dolphins with 10 touchdowns in 2014, but he rarely clicked with quarterback Ryan Tannehill on long passes and was unhappy he wasn’t targeted more.
Wallace used the words “fresh start” often in his interview on Saturday.
“I wish things could’ve ended better, but that’s life,” Wallace said.
Vikings players Charles Johnson and Captain Munnerlyn were among those who expressed surprise and dismay on Twitter after Jennings was let go, but Wallace took the news in stride about a teammate he never had.
“I got traded yesterday, so nothing surprises me,” Wallace said, adding: “It’s all business. That’s one thing I never will forget about this game.”
The Vikings have been lacking a true, consistent deep threat for the last decade, since they traded Randy Moss, and when his name came up on Saturday Wallace said if he “could be half as good as that guy” then he would “be fine.” With Johnson’s emergence last year, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater should have a couple of options for stretching the field.
The jettison of Jennings likely will elevate the role of wide receiver Jarius Wright in the slot position. He was second on the Vikings with 588 yards receiving. Other returning wide receivers are Cordarrelle Patterson, coming off a disappointing 2014 season, and Adam Thielen, an undrafted player from Division II Minnesota State who was one of the biggest success stories on last year’s team.
Jennings led the Vikings last season with 742 yards and six touchdowns. The $45 million, five-year contract he signed in 2013 came with nearly $18 million guaranteed, and a $6 million salary cap hit in dead money for 2015 after his release. But the Vikings have the option to designate Jennings as a post-June 1 release, a tool teams can use to spread out the cap hits of a recently released player over multiple seasons. That would save the Vikings another $4 million under their cap for 2015, after June 1.
The other major looming roster matter remaining, of course, is the status of running back Adrian Peterson. Team officials have met with him twice this month, but the Vikings still must decide whether to trade him, release him, give him a new contract or bring him back.
The Vikings also wrapped up a visit on Saturday with free agent defensive end Michael Johnson, who left town without a contract. He’s also considering returning to the Cincinnati Bengals.MORE NEWS: Firefighters Hurt By Falling Porch During Minneapolis House Fire
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