Luring Greg Jennings in free agency can be the first step in replacing Percy Harvin.
On Monday, the Minnesota Vikings put an end to the Percy Harvin drama by sending the disgruntled receiver (per Jay Glazer of Fox Sports) to the Seattle Seahawks for a first- and seventh-round pick in the upcoming NFL draft.
Harvin's departure seems like a crippling blow to a team that was forced to rely on Jerome Simpson and Devin Aromashadu for the final six weeks of the season.
However, with the addition of another top draft pick and an aggressive approach in free agency, the Vikings can build a deeper receiving corps.
A lot has been made about Jennings' status on the open market. He's 29 years old coming off his worst season after missing eight games with a groin injury. Some reports also have him commanding a $14 million a season salary despite all of this.
Lot of opinions here about what top receiver UFAs may command. Heard Greg Jennings wants $14M/year. Tough to see that happening.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) February 22, 2013
Yet, there are plenty of things that Jennings can bring to the table.
He's a solid route-runner and has great hands that can give Christian Ponder a reliable target outside of tight end Kyle Rudolph.
Since a breakout season in 2007, the two-time Pro Bowler has gained over 900 yards receiving five times and caught nine or more touchdowns four times in seven NFL seasons.
He's a professional pass-catcher, and that's exactly what the Vikings need.
The salary demands will be the only thing holding the two sides back, but Evan Silva of Rotoworld predicted that the he'll eventually give in and agree to a cheaper contract.
Going on age 30 with 11 missed games the past two seasons, Jennings would do well to surpass Reggie Wayne's three-year, $17.5 million deal. He probably will, but not by much. Minnesota is desperate for an established, playmaking outside receiver.
Even if the acquisition of Jennings falls through, the two first-round picks the Vikings possess can do wonders for the passing game.
The Vikings own the 23rd and 25th overall picks in April's NFL draft, and that can put them in position to land two stud receivers.
There are three names that will be floated out as potential draft picks between now and April.
Keenan Allen is a 6'3", 206-pound receiver who can become a No. 1 on the outside for the Vikings.
With the California Golden Bears, Allen was in an offense that looks similar to what Bill Musgrave has employed the past couple of seasons. He's able to make plays after the catch as well as go deep and stretch the field.
An alternative to Allen is Clemson's DeAndre Hopkins.
Hopkins is coming off a monster season (1,405 yards and 18 touchdowns) for the Tigers and is more of a deep-threat/red-zone target in the mold of former Vikings receiver Sidney Rice.
The Vikings can even find a replacement for Harvin's role in the offense by drafting West Virginia's Tavon Austin.
Austin ran a 4.34 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine and can line up anywhere on the field as a human chess piece. He also won the Johnny Rogers Award in college football as the top return specialist meaning he can help fill the void on special teams that Harvin leaves behind as well.
Adding two of these three prospects can help the Vikings add another pair of young receivers who have talent to upgrade the Viking offense in 2013.
Jarius Wright may not be able to become an elite receiver, but he showed enough talent to have a decent role.
The fourth-round pick from Arkansas made his debut after Harvin was injured in Week 9 and finished 2012 with 22 receptions for 310 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Then there's the wild card that could be the other fourth-round pick from 2012—Greg Childs.
Childs was expected to be a major contributor in last year's draft class, but suffered a double patella tendon tear in a training-camp scrimmage last summer.
It sounds like a grim diagnosis, considering that only Gary Baxter has been through the same process preparing for a comeback (and never played another game), but Childs is only 23 and believes he's on the right track to return to the field in 2013.
If he's able to show a glimpse of the talent he displayed at Arkansas, the Vikings will have another steal to add to an impressive list that includes Wright, Harrison Smith and Matt Kalil.
It's tough to see an elite talent like Harvin walk out the door, but the Vikings have given themselves an opportunity to ease the transition by turning one talented receiver into three or more.