Friday, September 7, 2012

Jennings' Contract Should Be A Priority

Greg Jennings went on a media blitz earlier this week when he made it seem like there is a legitimate possibility that this season could be his last in Green Bay. 

" Whether that comes with Green Bay in the near future or (with) one of the other 31 teams, that's the reality of it," Jennings said. That's the way I have to approach it. My mind-set is 20 weeks of football with the Packers and then this is it."

"This is my last year with the Packers under contract. That's my mind-set. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn't, I have to make sure I go out there and do what I've been doing for six solid years here to get myself a chance to play somewhere." 

Jennings was not the only one who didn't sound optimistic about his future with the Packers. Aaron Rodgers, speaking on his radio show on 540 ESPN and, spoke of his time with Jennings in the past tense. 

"I think you have to be realistic about it and think that it might be (our last year together)." Rodgers said. I have loved my time with Greg, Greg and I are going to be buddies whether he's here or not. 

Now, this may all just be a negotiating ploy by Jennings and Rodgers, who obviously would love to have Jennings back. Jennings is probably trying to get the Packers to pay him more by threatening to leave.  However, Jennings will be costly and the Packers also would like to give extensions to Rodgers, Clay Matthews and B.J. Raji, so they might not be able to afford all of them. There is also the thought the Packers are so deep at wide receiver that may might consider Jennings expendable, especially at the age of 29. 

That line of thinking is extremely flawed. When Jennings has been out due to injury the Packers offense has not looked the same. Jennings and Jermichael Finley are the two players who draw the most attention from defenses. Towards the end of the season the Chiefs and Giants were very successful jamming the Packers wide outs at the line of scrimmage, which killed the timing of the offense. Jennings is much better at beating that jam of the line than Jordy Nelson.

Jennings chemistry with Rodgers is irreplaceable. Their timing on all their routes from outs, to posts, to fades,to slants and especially their back shoulder routes are impeccable. Jennings is perhaps the best route runner in the NFL. He is outstanding at understanding coverages and finding soft spots in zones. Jennings also excels at running each route at the same speed so it will be tougher for the defense to know when the deep ball is coming. 

Jennings has proved he can get the job done on the biggest stage as he caught 20 passes, for 295 yards and 2 touchdowns during the 2010 Super Bowl playoff run. Some of the receivers did not get it done on the big stage last year with all the drops against the Giants. It would be very naive to think that all the wide receivers would just move up a spot and the Packers would not miss a beat. 

The franchise tag is unlikely to be an option. First the Packers would have to be $11 million below the cap, which may be tough to get to. Also, Jennings is taking a risk at playing this year with no contract for next year, so why would he play another year under a one year deal? Also, Jennings only signed a three year contract  last time so he could cash in with another big contract while he was still in his prime. 

Rodgers and Matthews are locks to be extended, so if it come down to having to choose whether to sign Jennings or Raji long term I would go with Jennings, especially if Raji does not play more like he did in 2010 rather then how he played last season. The Packers are built based of their quarterback and their wide receivers. That is the huge advantage they have over the majority of NFL teams. The NFL is set up for the offenses and the Packers had a record breaking one in 2011. They need to keep that intact for them to continue to be a Super Bowl contender. 

Jennings will command a contract at least as much as the five year, $55 million contract, with $26 million guaranteed that Vincent Jackson received. Jennings should not be going anywhere. I believe that Thompson will realize this and all this worrying will be for naught. 

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