Packer Update

FEW PLAYERS ARE IRREPLACEABLE

Jenkins will be one the league's most coveted free agents

I’ve heard more than a few people opine that Cullen Jenkins will be too expensive to re-sign. That’s not really accurate. Even though the Packers figure to be pretty tight against the salary cap once a new collective bargaining agreement is reached, if general manager Ted Thompson really wanted to keep the veteran defensive lineman, he could find a way (dumping high-priced and expendable veterans like offensive tackle Mark Tauscher and inside linebacker Nick Barnett would be a good place to start). But the truth is, Thompson has been planning for life without Jenkins for quite some time. That reality started to become clear as far back as April 2010 when a pair of defensive linemen were selected in the draft. And it became blatantly obvious when he failed to reach out to agent Cary Fabrikant at any time during the ’10 season.

So why didn’t Thompson put up more of a any kind of fight to keep a player ranked No. 1 in pass rushing productivity since 2008? For one, Jenkins is always hurt. He’s missed 17 games in the past three seasons, and when he hasn’t been out of the lineup, he’s often been slowed by a myriad of nagging injuries. Another thing working against re-signing Jenkins is his age. He turned the big 3-0 in January. That milestone birthday, coupled with a long history of injuries, does not bode well for his future. Any general manager willing to offer the former Central Michigan star a five or six-year deal is rolling the dice – especially now that the cap is expected to reappear. The final thing working against Jenkins returning for an eighth season in Green Bay is Dom Capers. Thompson has so much faith in his veteran defensive coordinator – not to mention the ability of his coaches to develop young talent – that he’s not afraid to let a very good player walk away.

And that’s what Jenkins is – a very good player. Those who consider him to be more than that are mistaken. He’s slightly above-average at the point of attack, and regardless of what Pro Football Focus says, he’s not an élite pass rusher. Statistics might suggest he’s been the most productive pass rusher in the league since 2008, but those same statistics also place Trevor Pryce, Shaun Rogers, Jason Jones, Mike Wright and Tony Brown among the top 10. None of this is meant to minimize Jenkins’ contributions to the Packers over the past seven seasons, but let’s not get carried away. A scout once told me that there are very few truly irreplaceable players on a 53-man roster. In Green Bay, quarterback Aaron Rodgers and linebacker Clay Matthews probably fit that description. Jenkins does not.

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9 Comments to "FEW PLAYERS ARE IRREPLACEABLE"

  1. Bryan says:

    Yes, there are too many factors against signing Jenkins, his age, injury history, and young players too take his place. Also, there are numerous teams that will greatly overpay for Jenkins, especially those switching from a 3-4 to a 4-3 like Cleveland and Denver. I did not realize Jenkins had missed so many games in the past three seasons, but I do remember all the nagging injuries like the calf and playing with the club.

    I can not say that there is a $7-8 million per season difference between Mike Neal and Jenkins, so it is prudent to let Jenkins walk. I would not be surprised to see TT sign a FA DL considering it will be a buyer’s market with the dearth of FAs set to be available once the new CBA is done.

  2. Nerdmann says:

    TT has a knack for knowing when to cut a guy loose. Take Ahman Green for example. They only held on to Kampman one more year out of respect.

  3. Dave says:

    All valid points. I will still miss him. He was a good Packer.

  4. CBreit says:

    “dearth” of free agents? Might want to go with “abundance”, “glut”, “surplus” – not a term meaning “lack”

  5. BigAl says:

    If Jenkins was a few years younger, I bet Ted would’ve re-signed him by now. I don’t think money is that big of an issue. Ted paid Hawk between 30 and 35 million dollars and he’s not as good a player. But he’s younger and more durable.

  6. Mackie says:

    This is exactly what TT does. I like what the scout said “very few irreplaceable players” on any NFL team. I don’t think Neal will be as good as Jenkins is now but in a year or two he could be much better.I still like CJ as a DE and if he’s not playing, how would he get better?

  7. dHoward says:

    I think fans don’t look far enough in the future. Not signing Jenkins isn’t just about this next season. With the return of the salary cap it’s also about 2012 and the ability to extend Finley, Sitton, Nelson, and Wells before they become FA’s and Shields the year after.

  8. CJS says:

    I liked that Jenkins gave us a three-pronged pass rush (with Clay and The Freezer as the other two). Hopefully we get more consistent pressure from the other LB’s this season, because we’ll all be missing Jenkins a bit more if we don’t. Especially with Woodson slowing down a bit.

    That said, this is the right move. Jenkins has missed a lot of games and that factor will only become more probable as he gets older. Also, if we signed him and then had to cut him, we wouldn’t get a Compensatory draft pick for him. Let’s all hope Jenkins gets a monster deal so Ted has another 3rd or 4th rounder to work with in the 2012 draft.

  9. Yoop says:

    I will say good bye to Jenkins with a hardy well done and big time Thank you! I will also say that the team is in a very good position at DE.
    Neal, Wilson, Pickett, Green and Guy all play DE. And Green and Pickett can back up Raji.
    You have to remember they only keep 6 Dlinemen. Wilson, Neal and Guy all the fit the DE spot as the quicker type. You put Pickett and Green in for that short yardage, goal line situations.
    And you have to remember the Packers play with 2 Dlinemen over 60% of the time the rotation is very good. The overall talent level will be better IMO.

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