Moments after finishing off one of the most productive seasons a wide receiver has produced in Packers history, Greg Jennings had some business to attend to.
"I'm going up there right after this," Jennings said of visiting general manager Ted Thompson's office to talk about a new contract.
Jennings' four-year, $2.85 million contract signed after being a second-round draft choice in 2006 will expire after 2009. Given Thompson's history of locking up his budding young players before they reach free agency, contract talks likely are on the general manager's offseason agenda.
"I definitely would love for something to happen, but I'm not stressing the issue," Jennings said on Sunday after closing the season with 101 receiving yards against Detroit. "I still have one year obviously on my contract. If I have to play it out, I'll play it out. Hopefully, things change and they'll reward me. Maybe you guys can put in a good word."
His four dropped passes against Detroit notwithstanding, Jennings' play has spoken louder than words. He posted team highs of 80 receptions, 1,292 yards and nine touchdowns this season. The yardage figure ranked sixth in the NFL and 10th in team history. Plus, he led the league with eight receptions of 40 yards or longer, tied for second with 21 receptions of 20 yards or longer and tied for eighth in touchdowns.
With 21 touchdowns in the last two seasons and Pro Bowl-alternate status after this season, Jennings has emerged as one of the NFL's top young players. And he has a ton of leverage, should he decide to use it. But, don't expect the son of a Michigan preacher to do anything of the sort.
"Here's my deal," Jennings said on Monday. "I don't really believe in becoming or being a distraction. I most certainly and most definitely don't want it to linger into another season or anything like that. If I did have to wait, then I would definitely wait it out. Then that's when it becomes tough because the testing of the market is out there."
Jennings ranked 26th on the team this season with a salary-cap figure of just a shade over $757,000. Next season, Jennings will make the league minimum for a fourth-year player: $530,000.
That's chump change compared to other receivers who hit the jackpot in 2008. The Vikings signed Bernard Berrian away from the Bears for six years and $43.2 million. When the Cowboys acquired Roy Williams away from the Lions, Dallas signed him to a five-year extension worth $45 million. In September, the Giants signed Plaxico Burress to a five-year, $35 million extension. While Jennings ranked sixth in yards, Berrian finished 24th, the troubled Burress 85th and Williams a woeful 178th.
In a similar situation to Jennings' last year, running back Ryan Grant skipped offseason practices and the first week of training camp before getting a new four-year contact worth more than $20 million.
"They shouldn't worry about that," Jennings said. "I'm here to play football. The business will take care of itself. If it comes down to it, I'm not a type that wants to hold out. Now, if that comes to happening, I'm not going to sit here and say I won't do it but I'm about 99.9 percent sure that I won't be doing any of that. That's just not me. But, again, you never know what happens, but I don't see it happening at all."
After the Detroit game, Jennings joked that his dropped passes might be held against him during contract negotiations. Jennings then turned serious, and his disappointment was evident.
"I'm a guy who makes plays," he said. "When my number is called upon, I make plays. I do not not make plays. That's what happened today. That will not happen. I'm not saying I will not drop another ball in my career, but today, it will never happen again. I can promise you that."
Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Productive Jennings poised for big payday
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