At the end of the season, Greg Jennings took down the photos from his Green Bay Packers‘ locker. Then he put his Green Bay house up for sale. He prepared fans for his departure throughout the season by stating in realistic terms the chances of his returning to the team that drafted him seven years ago.
We all know the situation: Jennings wants a long-term, number-one-receiver contract; Green Bay needs salary cap space. It all adds up to Jennings moving on with another team.
When general manager Ted Thompson said Friday at the NFL Combine that the team would like to try to retain all their free agents, including Jennings, I didn’t think it meant much. I don’t doubt that Thompson and the team would like to keep Jennings, but that doesn’t make it likely or realistic that they will.
Hence, a recent report that the Packers are mulling the option of placing the franchise tag on Jennings was something of a surprise. It’s certainly an option for Green Bay, but I don’t think it’s a very good option for them – or Jennings.
A franchise tag on Jennings would cost the team around $10.3 million for the season. That’s a lot for one season when you consider how strong Green Bay is at receiver with Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, and James Jones. If there were one area in which the team could take a hit, it’d be the receiving group.
The Packers could also go the route of franchise tagging Jennings and then trying for a trade. Though there are teams that are in real need of a receiver, they could likely find another one at a better price. Green Bay could, however, release Jennings from the franchise tag if they were unable to find a trade partner.
Another downside to a franchise tag for Jennings is that it would hurt the team’s relationship with the amiable receiver who has always been a fan favorite. No player likes a franchise tag and Jennings made it very clear last season that he would not be happy if he received the tag. At age 29, coming off of two seasons that have gained him a bit of a reputation as injury prone, Jennings is looking for a long-term deal. A franchise tag is pretty much the antithesis of what his looking for.
I would love to see Jennings return to Green Bay. I’d love for the team to be able to work out a deal with him. At the very least, I want the team to make a decent pitch. It may not be enough to keep Jennings, but at least they’ll have tried, and if Jennings leaves, best of luck to him. But I would hate to see the team saddle Jennings with the franchise tag, tick him off, lose $10.3 million, and then watch him leave next year. I don’t think that’s a good situation for anyone involved.