Cullen Jenkins has been a pretty solid performer for the Green Bay Packers over the years. He had perhaps his best all-around season for the Packers in 2009 after transitioning full time to defensive end, where he recorded 32 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles and his first career interception.
In his previous seasons, when he was shuttled back and forth between defensive tackle and defensive end, Jenkins put up some solid numbers as well. In 2007, he totaled 44 tackles and knocked down six passes. In 2006, he had 32 tackles and 6.5 sacks as a part-time starter. In 2008, he had 2.5 sacks in only four games.
But that production apparently isn’t enough for Ted Thompson and the Green Bay Packers.
You see, Jenkins’ contract is up after the 2010 season and the Packers clearly sent a big fuck you Jenkins’ way when they drafted defensive end Mike Neal in the second round of this year’s draft. The team later added another defensive end, C.J. Wilson, in the seventh round. These guys were added to the mix of first-round bust Justin Harrell, who now looks likely to be cut; Johnny Jolly, who’s current restricted free agent tender would also expire after next season; last year’s top pick B.J. Raji, who has switched between tackle and end since being drafted; Ronald Talley, who the Packers’ coaching staff is high on; and Jarius Wynn, another 2009 draft pick.
That’s a lot of defensive ends.
The problem with Jenkins certainly isn’t his production. If you look at the rest of the group, two things separate Jenkins. First, there’s his age – Jenkins will be 30 by the end of the 2010 season. Second, he isn’t a Ted Thompson guy – Jenkins was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2003 by Mike Sherman.
So, clearly the Packers, and Thompson in particular, have no reason to go out of their way to pay Jenkins the going market rate for a productive, starting defensive end when the season is over.
But I’m certain another team will pay that rate, because Jenkins not only has proven to be a solid 3-4 defensive end, but that he’s a great inside rusher in the 4-3.
Ladies and gentlemen, enjoy watching Cullen Jenkins as a member of the Green Bay Packers while you still can.
I would be more willing to bet that Neal is a replacement for Jolly than Jenkins, what with Jolly’s trial and all. And Wilson was probably more of a depth/project player than a replacement for either Jolly or Jenkins.
It would be very sad if it turns out you are correct and Ted Thompson really was that egotistical – if so, then I guess the Packers deserve not to make a deep run in the playoffs under his belt. I share your great respect for Jenkins’ value to the team. In my opinion, he is irreplaceable and should be a focus of resigning, even if he may shine as a pass rusher in a 4-3 system. He has been an unsung hero in the 3-4 transition and it’s hard to argue against the contention that he was a HUGE contributor to our high NFL rankings on defense last season. Thompson must be willing to re-sign Jenkins at the end of this next season!
I, too, would hate to see Jenkins leave. He was one of the reasons the Pack was #1 againest the run. Why would you mess with that? Sure, he’s going to want more money next year…he’s earned it. But now to allow another team pay it is a sin, IMO. “If it an’t broke….” My opinion during the draft was that the Packers were trying to increase the pass rush from the other side, not Jenkins.