The Green Bay Packers are notorious for letting their veteran players go instead of paying the big bucks to keep them. However, can the Packers really afford to allow Greg Jennings to walk next season?
Jennings has emerged as Green Bay’s No. 1 receiver over the last few years after three consecutive seasons with over 1,100 yards receiving. It would have been four straight years if Jennings did not get hurt towards the end of last season, which forced him to miss the last three games. It should also be noted that he has been selected to the Pro Bowl the last two seasons.
There is no question Jennings would love to remain with the Packers, as he has expressed his wish to stay in Green Bay until the day he retires. There is also no doubt fans would love to see him retire a Packer and help the team get a couple more Super Bowl rings.
“If I’m here, I would love to be here,” Jennings said. “If I’m not, it is what it is. This is my locker, (and) I want this to be my locker until I hang my cleats up and decide that I’ll give this locker up to somebody else.”
With the season starting Sunday and no contract negotiations in sight, what is general manager Ted Thompson waiting for? The possibility is that the Packers may not have the kind of money Jennings’ agent is trying to get for his client. Considering several wide receivers have received big pay days this past offseason, the price for a talented wide out such as Jennings has been driven up.
Vincent Jackson left the San Diego Chargers to sign a five-year deal worth $55 million with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Many people believe Tampa Bay overpaid for him but that still does not help the Packers situation with Jennings. Since Jennings has better career numbers then Jackson, it would only make sense that he would get paid more money.
An even bigger problem Green Bay faces is that they have three other Pro Bowl players who will need contract extensions in the next few years. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers, linebacker Clay Matthews, and nose tackle B.J. Raji. Matthews and Raji have two years remaining on their contracts and they are certainly not expendable. Rodgers, the league’s reigning MVP, will need a new extension by 2014.
Obviously, Rodgers needs to be the first player signed to a long-term deal because without him, the Packers do not win Super Bowl XLV and they have no chance of getting to another one in the next 10 years. Matthews has proven to be a top linebacker in the league for many years to come and Raji is a very special player playing a difficult position. The fact of the matter is Jennings is the most expendable of the four players due to Green Bay’s depth at the wide receiver position.
“I don’t know what their mindset is in regard to being able to keep all four guys,” Jennings said. “I’m sure they would love to (re-sign) and I’m sure all four guys would love to stay, but who knows? Only time will tell.”
The reality is all four players are capable of acquiring monster contracts and there is only so much money to go around. This is another reason why the Packers must make the best of a good opportunity and win another Super Bowl.
I believe the Packers will find a way to sign all four players but only if someone takes a pay cut. There is no way Jennings can get paid $55 million and stay in Green Bay. Even though he plays at a higher level than a majority of the top 10 highest paid receivers in the NFL, he has the luxury to play with an exceptionally talented quarterback on a team that should be contenders for at least the next five years. That alone should be reason enough to ask for a little less to gain a little more hardware.
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