Green Bay Packers defensive end Cullen Jenkins is not the kind of guy who makes a scene… unless he wants a new contract.
Ah yes, it’s that time of year. Or at least it’s that time of year for Jenkins — the season of discontent.
Jenkins is in the final year of his contract and like quite a few players before him, he hasn’t received the contract extension he feels he deserves. Oh, and he’s pissed about it.
Fortunately, Jenkins isn’t the kind of guy who makes a big scene.
“It’s almost like maybe a slap in the face,” Jenkins said Friday. “I’m not the type of player that causes a big scene or goes out and displays his unhappiness. You just kind of feel like you’re not in the plans, like they just don’t see you as a valuable enough player.”
Nope. Not the kind of guy who causes a big scene…
So… negotiating through the media… small scene? Humongous, out-of-control scene?
Certainly not a big scene.
Look at you?
Sorry, I was typing.
Anyway, Jenkins isn’t happy. He’ll become an unrestricted free agent in the offseason and is currently finishing up a four-year, $15.84 million deal.
On the season, Jenkins has three sacks and six tackles. He’s on pace for the best statistical season of his career, but an expiring contract will do that for you.
Regardless, Jenkins has been a solid performer for the Packers, both as a 3-4 defensive end and a 4-3 defensive tackle. His best season came in 2006 when he racked up 6.5 sacks, a career high, and 32 tackles.
At his current pace, Jenkins would finish the 2010 season with 32 tackles and 16 sacks, the latter of which is improbable.
The Packers have had little to no conversation with Jenkins’ agent, thus far, and the defensive end’s public posturing doesn’t make it anymore likely the team’s front office will move.
Jenkins is currently comparing himself to Arizona Cardinals defensive tackle Darnell Dockett, probably because he wants Dockett money (four years, $48 million, with $30 million guaranteed). Of course, Jenkins isn’t Dockett and he doesn’t warrant Dockett money. The Cardinals defensive tackle has made two Pro Bowls and was a first-team All Pro in 2009.
Jenkins has done none of those things, although he has been a solid contributor to the Packers’ defense.
On the open market, Jenkins would be a valuable commodity and would probably be off the market by the time the first weekend of free agency was over. Thus, he’ll probably get Dockett money or close to it, but don’t expect the Packers to pay that.
Part of GM Ted Thompson’s philosophy has always been not to overpay in free agency. That applies to the Packers’ own free agents, as well.
Jenkins isn’t likely to get a Dockett-like offer before the season ends, if he gets an offer at all.
Part of the equation, in the Packers eyes, has to center on defensive end Johnny Jolly, who was suspended indefinitely prior to the season, but will be eligible for reinstatement after the Super Bowl.
Jolly is younger and has a bigger upside than Jenkins. He was the Packers most disruptive defensive lineman in 2009 and, if he works out in his off time and doesn’t end up in prison, there’s no reason to think he couldn’t work his way back into being a regular contributor.
The Packers also drafted defensive end Mike Neal in the second round of this year’s draft and they expect Neal to be a contributor sooner, rather than later.
The Packers currently start Jenkins, B.J. Raji and Ryan Pickett on the defensive line, with Neal and C.J. Wilson serving as the primary backups. Next year, the team could easily go with Raji and Pickett, and either Jolly or Neal replacing Jenkins.
This is, of course, all predicated on the fact that Jolly gets reinstated, which is completely up in the air.
So, the situation with Jenkins boils down to this.
Should the Packers sign him to a long-term deal? Yes.
Are they going to meet his asking price? Doubtful.
Can they live without him? Yes.
The real question then, is will Jenkins take less to stay in Green Bay and get an extension done during the season.
I’ve consulted my Magic 8 Ball in the brief period when Jenkins wasn’t making a big scene and it reads: signs point to no.
Lots will depend upon how well Neal plays and whether or not there’s a talented group of DE’s in the draft and free agency.
The business end of things really bums me out sometimes. Letting Jenkins walk after this season makes fiscal sense but he is so great for this team. He is such a solid contributor on this defense that it would be really hard to see him go…not to mention that I think he is great Packer people.