While guys like T.J. Lang and Tim Masthay were given contract extensions by the Green Bay Packers this offseason, receiver Greg Jennings, who will be a free agent after the season, sat and watched.
Now there’s reason to believe the Packers haven’t made much of an attempt to sign Jennings to a long-term deal. In an interview with “Mike & Mike in the Morning,” Jennings suggested as much and termed his future with the Packers as “up in the air.”
“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.”
Does this mean the Packers don’t want to re-sign Jennings? Not necessarily.
They waited until the eve of free agency to sign tight end Jermichael Finley to an extension this offseason, so there’s plenty of time to get a deal done.
Jennings’ deal is going to be complicated for a number of reasons, though.
First, the Packers have plenty of good receivers. Jordy Nelson looks like a top-of-the-line guy, Randall Cobb should continue to emerge and yeah, he’s not Greg Jennings, but Diondre Borel is still kicking around on the practice squad. Of course, we haven’t mentioned James Jones, the suddenly good-looking prospect Jarrett Boykin or Donald Driver, who probably wants to play until he’s 80. Does this decrease Jennings’ leverage? I’d say so.
Second, Jennings hasn’t been the picture of health. He missed three games with a knee injury last season and most of the preseason with a concussion. Does this mean he’s breaking down? Probably not. He’ll only be 29 this month, but it’s a safe bet the Packers are going to make sure this doesn’t become a trend before throwing a lot of money at Jennings.
Third, is the money itself. Jennings and his agent are stupid if they don’t ask for elite receiver money. You might make the argument that the Packers are stupid if they pay elite receiver money. Calvin Johnson got $132 million over eight years this offseaon. Jennings won’t get that much, but clowns like Vincent Jackson ($11 million base in 2012) and Brandon Marshall ($9.3 million base in 2012) are getting paid north of $9 million a season. Jennings is better than those guys and you can bet he’ll want to be paid accordingly.
Finally, there’s the salary cap. The Packers only have so much money to pay all the guys they need to pay. Aaron Rodgers is grossly underpaid when compared to his peers. Both Clay Matthews and B.J. Raji are due for new contracts following the 2013 season. Can the Packers pay all of them? It’s going to be tricky. That’s for sure.