The 2012 NFL season literally just got underway and already some Green Bay Packer fans are thinking about the 2013 offseason.
Thanks to some recent comments by free agent-to-be Greg Jennings and his MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers, it’s becoming clear that Jennings could be playing the 2013 season in a uniform other than the Green and Gold.
First, here is what Jennings had to say on the matter on ESPN’s Mike and Mike in the morning:
“I definitely want to be here, but understanding the nature of the business, you never know. There is really nothing else I can really say or do. The ball is not in my court at all. I have to play the cards that I’m dealt. Right now it’s football. That’s my focus.”
This really isn’t a cause for panic nor is it really any different than what he has said in the past. Jennings has maintained all along he wants to remain a Green Bay Packer. This mindset is the best for the Packers if this indeed truly Jennings’ mindset right now.
What Rodgers had to say, however, probably raised more than a few eyebrows. Here’s what he told ESPN Milwaukee’s Jason Wilde on his weekly radio show on ESPN 540:
“I think you have to be realistic about it and think that it might be. I have loved my time with Greg. Greg and I are going to be buddies whether he’s here or not.”
The fact that Rodgers used “loved” vs. “love” is likely what has caught everyone’s attention. Knowing that the Packers will very soon be faced with resigning Jennings, Rodgers, Clay Matthews and BJ Raji, as well as a possible pay raise for Jordy Nelson there seems to be a thought that thanks to these recent remarks there’s a good chance #85 will be elsewhere next year.
Folks, relax. While I am not inside the heads of Ted Thompson and Russ Ball, I would be willing to bet that Jennings isn’t going anywhere outside the state of Wisconsin.
Jennings’ recent comments are part of the all too familiar part of contract negotiations called “posturing.” Jennings (or more accurately, his agent) is publicly conveying the message that while he wants to remain in Green Bay, he is prepared to move on. This is designed to force the team to sweeten its deal under the threat of one of its star players moving on.
It happens all the time in NFL and has been for nearly two decades now. Maybe Packer fans aren’t use to this because they haven’t been through this with a wide receiver since Sterling Sharpe before the 1994 season, nearly 20 years ago.
The albatross in the room of course is the pending monster deal for Rodgers. Drew Brees recently signed with the New Orleans Saints. Brees’ new deal is a five-year, $100 million deal and many think Rodgers’ new deal could (and perhaps should) go above and beyond that given Rodgers is 28 years old and Brees is 32 and Rodgers hasn’t had a major injury like Brees has, though the Saints quarterback rebounded from that rather nicely.
While it certainly is possible Rodgers’ new deal will go over the $100 million mark, it’s just as likely that it will come at or below that number. Two years ago nearly to the day, Tom Brady signed a four-year $72 million dollar deal with the New England Patriots. Keep in mind this was during a time when Brady and Peyton Manning were still the top two quarterbacks in the league with Brees coming on strong and Rodgers about to have his breakout year.
It was by all means a “below market” deal when you consider Manning signed a five year $90 million extension in July 2011 and then promptly sat out the 2011 season due to multiple neck surgeries. Not to mention that Brady was considered by many to be the superior quarterback to Manning at that point in time, as pointed out by Aaron Nagler of Cheesehead TV last night via Twitter.
The point is that Rodgers may take a lower deal if means keeping his cast intact. Rodgers has definitely earned the right to be the best paid quarterback in the league, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he wants to. Rodgers is the definition of a “team guy” and his work ethic and dedication to winning is unquestioned and unrivaled.
The counter argument to this theory is that the Packers are so deep at wide receiver that they can afford to let Jennings go, sign Rodgers to a record deal and have Thompson draft another wide receiver.
It’s a good idea….in theory.
There have been some thoughts that the Packers have developed the ability to churn out talented wide receivers like the Denver Broncos used to do with running backs in the heyday of Mike Shanahan. While Thompson is more than adept at finding talented wide receivers in the draft, replacing Jennings cannot happen overnight.
Jennings is a rare talent. His chemistry with Rodgers is incredible and can’t just be replaced at the drop of a hat. The emergence of Nelson perhaps has led some people to take Jennings for granted but think about where the Packers would be without him. Nelson would be the number one and Randall Cobb (who has ball security issues) or James Jones (whom many fans border on obsessive in terms of wanting to trade him) would be your second and third receiver. Donald Driver is about to retire which would make Jarrett Boykin your number four if the roster stayed exactly the same.
Throw in Jermichael Finley who will be playing on the second year of a two year deal and suddenly you’re looking at a fundamental remaking of the Packers receiving corps. The plethora of weapons suddenly dwindles down to basically one in Nelson or possibly two should Cobb realize his potential.
That sounds scary doesn’t it? It very well could sound the same way to Thompson so let me say what I said earlier:
Jennings isn’t going anywhere, or at least he shouldn’t be.——————
Kris Burke is a sports writer covering the Green Bay Packers for AllGreenBayPackers.com and WTMJ in Milwaukee. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) and his work has been linked to by sites such as National Football Post and CBSSports.com. Follow @KrisLBurke