Jennings next in line for a new contract?
Speaking to reporters after the Packers’ Tuesday minicamp practice, Jennings sought to downplay his comment in a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report that he and the team were “pretty close” to a deal. Still, Jennings acknowledged that an agreement might be on the way.
“It could be,” Jennings said. “And it could not be.”
For all the grief Packers general manager Ted Thompson has received from fans for not being more active in free agency, he has consistently worked to sign his players to long-term deals before they hit the open market.
And his next target could be Jennings, a relatively unknown second-round pick out of Western Michigan in 2006 who has blossomed into one of the NFL’s most dangerous receivers. Jennings’ current contract runs through the end of this season and is scheduled to pay him $535,000.
Jennings hasn’t skipped the voluntary portion of the Packers’ offseason program in an attempt to force the team’s hand —a fairly common negotiating strategy in the NFL.
“I’ve got one year on my contract left,” Jennings said. “Until next year, until that year’s up, then I’m in a contract situation. But other than that, I’m going to play ball. Regardless of if we get a deal done or not, this is me being honest, I’m going to play ball. I’m not the holdout type of a guy.”
On the field, Jennings said business issues don’t bother him.
“I’m just trying to practice and perform at a high level, regardless of whether a deal is done or not,” Jennings said. “Honestly, that’s me.”
Jennings said he envisioned himself taking a leadership role on the team early in his career, despite coming in unheralded.
“I’m not trying to be ‘the’ leader,” Jennings said. “I feel like the quarterback is the leader, but there are other guys that play leadership roles. I want to be looked upon as a leader—and a positive one at that.”
Jennings’ decision to participate in the offseason program while his agent and the team work on a new contract has won him points with coaches and teammates.
“He’s been professional about it, I think,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. “The team has shown that they’re going to take care of the guys for the most part. He’s a guy who has been here a lot.”
Jennings’ approach stands in contrast to safety Nick Collins, who skipped most of the team’s voluntary offseason practices. Collins showed up for the mandatory minicamp Monday and made it clear to reporters that he wouldn’t rule out a training camp holdout.
“I’ve talked to a few guys, Nick in particular,” Jennings said. “But you know, every situation is a little different. Everyone goes about it a little differently. Some people give different advice than others.”
Collins’ deal also is up at the end of this season, along with several other key players: pass rusher Aaron Kampman, defensive lineman Ryan Pickett and offensive linemen Chad Clifton, Daryn Colledge, Jason Spitz and Tony Moll.
For now, Jennings says he’s remaining patient.
“It’s not hard to be patient,” Jennings said. “I’ve waited this long. There’s no sense in me rushing things now. Good things come to those who wait.”
-- Defensive lineman Johnny Jolly left Tuesday morning’s practice, and returned wearing an ice pack on his right thigh.
-- Cornerbacks Charles Woodson and Will Blackmon were present Tuesday after being excused from Monday’s practice.
-- Safety Anthony Smith sat out Tuesday morning’s practice. Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Monday that Smith had a groin injury.