There’s no doubt the pass rush was a major liability for the Green Bay Packers this season.
A lot of people want to point to the departure of defensive end Cullen Jenkins as the reason for that, never mind for a moment that the outside linebacker spot opposite Clay Matthews generated absolutely zero pass rush.
Jenkins’ seven sacks in 2010 were missed this season. The guy who was supposed to be his replacement, Mike Neal, was injured most of the season and did absolutely nothing when he finally got on the field. The Packers went from 47 sacks in 2010 to 29 in 2011.
While Jenkins didn’t exactly set the world on fire after signing with the Philadelphia Eagles as a free agent, he did record 40 tackles and 5.5 sacks while playing in all 16 games. Those are certainly better results than Neal.
The thing is, Jenkins has a somewhat restrictive contract, which has led several people to believe he could be a free agent again this season. The lineman is due a $5 million roster bonus in April, when he’ll be 31.
Philadelphia may deem that price too high to pay and if they decide not to, Jenkins will be free to sign with any team. In all, the Eagles would save $7.75 million if they released him.
So, why not bring him back to Green Bay?
Signing Jenkins would provide insurance if DE Mike Neal doesn’t pan out and Thompson isn’t able to get an end in the first round of the draft. Even if Neal and a first-round pick were added, Jenkins was highly respected in the locker room and would definitely be a good tutor for the younger players.
This could all be wishful thinking, of course. The Eagles have enough salary cap room to pay Jenkins and he doesn’t seem to think they’ll do anything but that.
“You kind of move on. Right now, I’m an Eagle, and that’s my mindset. I’m going to continue to be an Eagle until they don’t want me to be an Eagle anymore. That’s my main focus right now. I’m not worried about any of the other ifs, ands or buts.”
We’ll keep an eye on this one, but Jenkins’ return to Green Bay seems like a long shot right now.