Pretty much a good argument of why dealing Jennings sooner rather than later makes a lot of sense. It's interesting to see the difference where the Packers are and where the Falcons are. The Packers through pretty good drafting over the past 7 years are in a position where their depth can potentially absorb the blow of losing a player like Jennings, who is widely considered a Top 10 player at his position (Top 5 according to some), while the Falcons could never dream of parting ways with similar players prematurely because of their spottier draft record.http://www.jsonline.com/sports/packers/ ... 65026.html
Packers would be wise to deal Jennings
Sept. 12, 2012
Green Bay - If the Packers are as convinced as I am that this is Greg Jennings' final season in Green Bay, Ted Thompson should do all he can to attract fair market value and move him before the Oct. 30 trading deadline.
A confluence of factors almost all suggest that the Packers, as painful as such a decision would be, would be wise to deal one of their elite players.
One would think that as a championship-caliber team, the Packers should be doing all they can to win another Super Bowl this season.
In reality, keeping Jennings would just be a quick fix. And, assuming Jennings shrugs off his alarming rash of injuries and plays back to his Pro Bowl level, the Packers would benefit immensely from his presence this season.
But general managers, unlike coaches, are paid to think long term. Trading Jennings would be the kind of bold stroke that Thompson generally has been averse to making, but if handled properly could keep Green Bay in the Super Bowl hunt for years.
Talks with Eugene Parker, the agent for Jennings, have gone nowhere and, in all likelihood, aren't going to go anywhere. For a variety of reasons, the Packers can't pay Jennings what he wants and probably deserves, and no one should expect him to settle for less.
Like decision-makers across the league, Thompson, negotiator Russ Ball and key members of the personnel department discuss these kinds of scenarios many times over before decisions are made.
They have to know that bringing Jennings back just isn't in the cards.
Jennings, whose expiring contract averages $9.2 million and ranks ninth among wide receivers, should want considerably more than the free-agent deal Vincent Jackson signed in March with Tampa Bay that averaged $11.1 million. He's better than Jackson.
He might be eyeing more closely the $16.1 million that Larry Fitzgerald averages to rank a close second at the position to Detroit's Calvin Johnson. Parker negotiated Fitzgerald's extension with Arizona a year ago.
The Packers simply can't do that.
If Jennings is 1-a on their depth chart, then Jordy Nelson is 1-b. Twelve months ago, Ball got Nelson signed to a three-year extension averaging $4.2 million. As unassuming as Nelson might be, no team can have one veteran of comparable value making three times another veteran at the same position.
If the Packers did re-sign Jennings for, say, $13 million per year, the end result probably would be the sacrificing of a good younger player in free agency.
Clay Matthews and B.J. Raji, both 26, will be up after the 2014 season. The Packers would like to extend them during the next off-season as well as Aaron Rodgers, whose deal expires in March 2015.
It's hard to project how these players will have performed by season's end, but Marshall Newhouse, Morgan Burnett and Jermichael Finley all would become unrestricted in March 2014 as well.
Presently, the Packers rank 16th in salary-cap room at $6.7 million. It's the tightest they've been in years, and with the cap not expected to increase much, they figure to be even tighter a year from now.
Another reason the Packers can't go all in on Jennings is their abundance at wide receiver.
Sure, they could place the franchise-player tag on Jennings in March, but the cap charge for that would be about $10 million and would do nothing to ease the logjam at the position and at the negotiating table.
Thursday night at Lambeau Field, the Chicago Bears are in town for a rivalry game against a fellow NFC North contender and Jennings isn't expected to play.
Late in the fourth quarter against San Francisco, he was running a vertical route and suffered a groin injury.
Injuries have never been part of the equation with Jennings. He's proved time after time that he can take a hit, avoid kill shots and play hurt.
But now, with his 29th birthday approaching next week, Jennings can't stay on the field. Of the last three games that he's played, he hasn't been able to finish even one.
Jennings suffered a sprained medial collateral knee ligament in mid-December against Oakland and sat out three games. He returned for the playoff game against the Giants but then was able to play just two of the final 23 snaps because of a rib injury.
Less than a week into training camp, Jennings experienced headaches after taking a hit in practice, had to leave the intrasquad scrimmage two days later after absorbing another blow and sat out the next 2½ weeks with a concussion. It was the second concussion of his career; the first came against Arizona in August 2009.
At 5 feet 11 inches and 198 pounds, Jennings was the second-smallest wide receiver on the training-camp roster. As resilient as Jennings has been, the Packers and most other teams prefer more size at the position.
It truly is a big man's game. What's happening to Jennings makes the durability of Donald Driver, who is about the same size as Jennings but eight years older, all the more remarkable.
In the opener, Mike McCarthy basically used Jennings in the slot as his new Driver. Out of 63 snaps, Jennings lined up alone to a side only eight times.
No one can run a more crisp 15-yard comeback pattern than Jennings. His ability to get on top of cornerbacks and make stunning adjustments on take-off routes is reflected in his 30 receptions for 40 or more yards since 2007, an NFL best.
But against San Francisco, almost all those opportunities went to Nelson and James Jones.
From the slot on Sunday, Jennings made four of his five receptions that totaled 34 yards. The only ball he caught outside was a quick glance that Rodgers converted from a called run.
For whatever the reason, Jennings didn't seem comfortable in close quarters ducking the 49ers' headhunting collection of inside linebackers and safeties. It's not easy work, as Driver can attest.
Jennings carried the offense in 2010 after Finley blew out his knee in Game 5 and before Nelson caught fire in late December and the playoffs. He was equally special last year until the knee injury.
Besides injury, the only other red flag in 2011 was his career-low average of 4.04 yards after the catch. His average was 6.53 as recently as 2009 and then 4.91 in '10.
If Jennings were to walk in free agency, the Packers could bank on receiving a compensatory selection in the 2014 draft. The highest compensatory pick awarded since 1996 has been the 91st pick at the end of the third round.
Not only should the Packers be able to attract more handsome compensation in a trade, it would be their prerogative to have the pick or picks come to them in 2013 instead of waiting a year.
In recent years, the Packers settled for compensatory picks for the likes of Aaron Kampman, Cullen Jenkins, Scott Wells and Matt Flynn. Jennings is a better player than any of them.
Could the Packers obtain a first-round draft choice for Jennings at some point in the next seven weeks?
"Everybody will posture as high as they can get," an executive in personnel said. "But I would think Green Bay would be comfortable taking a second-round pick. It's much better to get something for him than just let him go in free agency.
"I certainly would be comfortable with a two. Pushing 30. Injury stuff. Has had a little bit of a slow start. He's looking for a lot of money so people will say, 'I have to pay this amount of money; I don't know if I want to give up the one and the money.'"
Before a deal can be completed, the Packers would have to give Parker permission to negotiate a new contract with the other team.
The last wide receiver to fetch a first-round draft choice was Roy Williams at the trading deadline in 2008. When Detroit GM Martin Mayhew extracted first-, third- and sixth-round picks from Jerry Jones of Dallas and later used the top pick to draft tight end Brandon Pettigrew, it was the start of the Lions' rebirth.
At the time, Williams was 26. Deion Branch was 27 in September 2006 when Bill Belichick stole a first-round pick from Seattle's Mike Holmgren.
In 2005, the Vikings gained a first from Oakland for Randy Moss, 27. In 2003, the Bills peddled Peerless Price, 26, to Atlanta for a first.
Joey Galloway, 28, moved from Seattle to Dallas in 2000 for two firsts. Two months later, 27-year-old Keyshawn Johnson went from the Jets to the Buccaneers for two firsts as well.
Among the wide-receiver trades involving less than first-round compensation were Brandon Marshall (two thirds) in 2012, Anquan Boldin (third and fourth) and Marshall (two seconds) in '10, Chris Chambers (second) in '07, Javon Walker (second) in '06, and Justin McCareins (second), Terrell Owens (second) and Keenan McCardell (third, sixth) in '04.
Almost every team in the league would like to have a thoroughbred such as Jennings, whose value is only enhanced by his unselfishness and high character.
The most logical landing spots would be Miami, Buffalo, Cleveland, Indianapolis and Oakland in the AFC and Carolina, Seattle and St. Louis in the NFC.
Bereft of talent at the position, Dolphins coach Joe Philbin always has spoken of Jennings in glowing terms and has extra picks in the second, third, sixth and seventh rounds for 2013.
The Rams have an additional first-round selection.
It isn't Thompson's nature to act prematurely. He will utilize Jennings, assuming the groin injury isn't problematic, and evaluate what life on offense would be without him.
A depth chart of Nelson, Jones, Randall Cobb, Driver and Jarrett Boykin still would be the envy of some teams. Diondre Borel is back on the practice squad, and as well as the Packers have drafted at wide receiver, a contributing player could be found in the fourth or fifth rounds come April.
Using compensation for Jennings, compensatory choices for Wells and Flynn and picks from their full draft list, the Packers can go about replacing aging Charles Woodson and Ryan Pickett on defense and adding some more physical players.
Meanwhile, Jennings can continue to build on a career elsewhere that, barring injury, really should have no limitations.
Perhaps Thompson will refuse to disrupt the offense and, with it, Rodgers' close relationship with Jennings. Maybe he just can't part with Jennings, the jewel of his second draft class.
If so, the Packers' future just won't be as bright.
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