Greg Jennings was never coming back. The Green Bay Packers really weren’t interested in retaining his services regardless of what you saw or read. Some reports led us to believe it was ultimately a choice between Jennings and Jermichael Finley. In reality, old No. 85 was never going to play for the Green Bay Packers and Finley was never going anywhere. Instead, it was only a strange set of circumstances that set the stage for Ted Thompson and the agent of a jettisoning player to form an unlikely bond in order to stick it to the Minnesota Vikings.
Look, I don’t have any sources. I just call them like I see them. And when I look at the whole Greg Jennings charade I see a whole lot of smoke and mirrors.
Here’s the way I see it…
The Packers and Greg Jennings were ready for a semi-amicable split. The Packers agreed not to slap the franchise tag on Jennings so the ever-increasing malcontent of a player could move on. Jennings was injured most of last year. Aaron Rodgers developed a man crush on Randall Cobb and that stung Jennings’ ego. The writing was on the wall for both parties. This was a perfect time to part ways. Jennings promptly put his house up for sale and announced his availability.
There was no typical PR speech about wanting to stay in Green Bay. Jennings wanted anything but Green Bay and he was determined to get it. Surely if he had some hope, any hope or intention of staying, he could have given us the standard issue, “I’d love to be here for life, but I know this is a business.”
Jennings didn’t do any of that. Instead, he and the organization shook hands and walked in opposite directions.
Then everything started going to hell. Many people felt confident that Jennings would end up in Miami with his old coach, but Bob McGinn said he had it on record that Joe Philbin doesn’t even like Jennings as a player that much. Say what??
The guy who coached Jennings to a Super Bowl title in which the receiver had two touchdowns doesn’t like him as a player? There’s something to be said for that and it likely speaks to Jennings’ “look at me” self-serving mentality. He’d rather be a number one in a bad receiving corps than be one of several great receivers in the best corps in football. The Packers organization also saw whatever it was Philbin didn’t like about Jennings and were okay with him walking.
Mike Wallace got a big deal and there were various other signings. And there was still Jennings, a guy who thought he would be commanding $15 million a year, getting nary a nibble.
So at this point, Jennings and his agent are starting to sweat a little bit. The market is drying up and there’s not a lot of interest. The Patriots emerge out of the woodwork and (if you believe some reports) offer up a modest $6 million a year, which is quickly shot down. Jennings is really feeling the heat personally now. His value is shriveling up before his very eyes.
Enter the Minnesota Vikings.
Now it’s Ted Thompson and company’s time to sweat. Not only are they about to lose their number one receiver, albeit willingly, it’s to the only division rival to beat the Packers in the last two years. The Vikings are about to get Jennings on the cheap because they are the only ones willing to go over the $6 million offered by the Pats. So, Teddy starts working the phones to find out if there are any other teams interested in Jennings to drive up the price, but the lines are cold.
So maybe Ted Thompson’s phone rings. Maybe it’s Greg Jennings’ agent, Eugene Parker, on the line. Maybe it’s vice versa… it doesn’t really matter. But in a matter of moments there aren’t many words that need to be exchanged for them to have an understanding. Greg will never return to Green Bay and the Packers don’t want him back. The only player for Jennings’ services are the hated rival in purple, and the common goal becomes clear… make the Vikings pay the most money possible.
So Parker and Thompson speak occasionally, making it look good — like they’re really having legitimate conversations, but all that is being discussed is how badly they can fleece the most inept football operation in all the land. It’s like a ping-pong match against the table when it’s folded up against the wall. Every offer the Vikings throw out, Parker calls Thompson. Not to discuss anything really, just to tell the Packers GM that he knows they’ll go deeper so stay in the conversation.
Knowing that the Vikings lost Harvin and allowed James Jones to get away last year, Thompson and Parker play this one to perfection and force the Vikes to overpay for a receiver they had no competition for.
The aftermath is beautiful. The Packers public relations machine goes to work and announces the Packers offered $8 million to keep Jennings, which the agent verifies. This allows the Packers to save face with the fan base and show they really wanted Jennings. It also helps sell the story on why the Vikings paid so much. This somewhat satisfies the Vikings’ brass even though, in the back of their collective heads, they know they were getting worked from all sides.
In the end, the Packers organization helped a departing player who wanted nothing to do with his former team get a monster deal he would have never gotten otherwise.
Jennings will be the biggest spokesman for the Green Bay Packers after his career is over. Not for the good times or the Super Bowl win he had in green and gold, but for the unspoken assist on getting him massively overpaid.