Greg Jennings' Vikings Signing a Blessing in Disguise for Packers
Many pundits have gone so far as to claim the WR3 and WR4 on Green Bay could be interchangeable as the No.1 option in the passing attack on several other teams.
That assertion will surely be put to test. The Packers' roster loses another former 1,000-yard option as Donald Driver announced his retirement this offseason, further thinning the depth at wide receiver.
However, it also freed up the rest of the offensive attack to go through targets like Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson, the latter who had a breakout season in 2011 with 1,200-plus yards receiving and 15 touchdowns on 95 catches.
Not to mention James Jones, who has established himself a locker room presence this offseason, leading by example. Jones' 2012 campaign may have eased worries of the Packers management when considering the long-term plan with Jennings, as he totaled 784 yards and 69 catches with 14 touchdowns.
In all likelihood, Aaron Rodgers will do what he does best, with or without Jennings: distribute the ball to all his options and count on his players he's given to keep the "next man up" mantra that the team has held as a cornerstone of the Mike McCarthy era.
Rodgers is a top-tier quarterback, much like his predecessor in Brett Favre in that he can and will make due with less. Favre threw to Antonio Chatman, Robert Brooks, Bubba Franks and Bill Schroeder, never having the luxury of a long-term No.1 target. Neither has Rodgers.
With the departure of Greg Jennings, how will the Packers fare in 2013?
Many Packers fans took to social media to express their malcontent with General Manager Ted Thompson's "wait and see, develop our guys" mentality.
The team failed to reach terms with long-time St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson, now an Atlanta Falcon. Paying $4 million a year for three years to a 30-year-old running back is less and less often a good move.
In similar fashion, it's easy to see why Thompson could balk at the idea of throwing a boatload of cash at a 29-year-old receiver Jennings as well, who will be 34 at the end of his new deal with the Vikings.
Thompson's non-move gives the Packers two things going forward:
Competitions within the roster to see who can emerge as an elite talent at both the wide receiver and running back positions. It keeps the team in better position to lock up key players like Rodgers, Clay Matthews and BJ Raji, namely.
All are soon to be due big paydays and it is much more frugal to invest in your core, younger players than to throw money into a sinkhole known in the form of wide receivers declining into their 30's, the second benefit of Thompson's non-move on Jennings or Jackson.
Fans who want flashy offseasons and to over-pay their current players should pay more attention to the teams that do that, such as the Cowboys, Redskins and Lions. (the latter two have fared better recently, though)
It remains to be seen whether or not the Packers will attempt to move tight end Jermichael Finley between now and the draft but, aside from drafting injury riddled Justin Harrell out of Tennessee with the 16th pick in the draft, Thompson has been very effective at managing his given talent and bringing in contributors to fill holes.
Jennings' cap number would have had a much more negative impact than the degree to which he will be missed. Had the team resigned him to the reported 5 year $47.5 million deal with the Vikings, it would be putting the team in a bind with money tied up to one position. However, the Packers can now look to fill other needs such as defensive back and running back in the draft, searching for role players to fit the West Coast offense and 3-4 defense they employ.
Of course few fans enjoy seeing a former fan favorite end up on a rival team. However, this time around, the team may very well have been just as willing to move forward without Jennings as he was with the Packers.
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