Could Jolly’s arrest change Packers’ plans for Jenkins?

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It’s interesting to wonder whether or not the arrest of Johnny Jolly on Friday in Houston could alter the plans of the Green Bay Packers when it comes to free agency.

It was expected that the team was going to bid goodbye to defensive lineman Cullen Jenkins in free agency. That was when the Packers expected they would regain the services of Jolly this season after he completed a one-year suspension.

Now, Jolly’s future with the Packers looks to be in limbo. Police allegedly found 600 grams of codeine in his Cadillac Escalade Friday during a traffic stop. Jolly was arrested in Houston in 2008 and charged with felony drug possession when he had 200 milligrams of codeine. He received a deferred prosecution provided he completed a court program that, obviously, hinges on him staying out of trouble. Otherwise, he faces 20 years in jail.

As Kareem Copeland of the Green Bay Press-Gazette speculates, the potential loss of Jolly could lead the Packers, who typically are very conservative in free agency, to reconsider plans for Jenkins, who is projected to be one of the top defensive free agents available when the labor battle is resolved.

Jenkins had seven sacks in only 11 games last season and has been a consistent performer for the Packers. But he’s 30 and general manager Ted Thompson might not be inclined to invest in a player with that kind of mileage, even one he knows well. Still, if the Packers were hoping the return of the talented Jolly could mitigate the loss of Jolly, now they could be looking at having neither in 2011.

It might suddenly make the defensive line a position of higher priority in the draft for the Packers, a spot where they’ve hit with guys like B.J. Raji and missed with guys like Justin Harrell.

Follow me on Twitter: @BradBiggs

Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

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