Cullen Jenkins offered the Green Bay Packers a hometown discount in exchange for some long-term security but at this point the defensive lineman sounds like a man resigned to the fact that he’ll be playing elsewhere in 2011.
Jenkins, a valuable member of the team’s front, turned 30 in January and he’s now out of a contract and held up as a free agent by the NFL’s lockout. Although he’s battled some injuries the past few seasons, he’ll likely be coveted on the open market.
Jenkins talked about the Super Bowl champion Packers in the past tense when visiting on ESPN Milwaukee according to Jason Wilde.
“Heading into last year, I’ve always been up there and always been a Packer, and I wanted to stay a Packer,” Jenkins said. “So we approached the team and wanted to get some type of security, some type of longer-term deal before the season so I would know I would be there. It wasn’t about money, it was about security, about trying to see if we could work something out.”
Would he take a lesser offer to remain with the Packers?
“Yeah,” Jenkins replied. “That was the thought then. I knew in going to them, I know Green Bay, I know the market, I know how they handle business, and the thought was if we could get something reasonable worked out, I knew I would take less than what I could’ve gotten in free agency. But they never approached me with anything and never got any type of negotiations going. It’s just how the business is. They had a lot of younger guys and felt they could move forward in that direction.”
Jenkins missed five games with a hamstring pull last season and also had a broken hand. He still turned in career-best production. He missed 12 games in 2008 with a torn pectoral muscle. So there’s some risk in investing in a player with his kind of mileage, but he’s proven he can excel in 4-3 and 3-4 schemes.
While he hasn’t completely ruled out returning to the Packers, he knows Mike Neal is waiting in the wings.
“The possibility is there, I guess,” Jenkins said. “It’s one of those things that I’m not really looking into (though). I’m just waiting for this lockout to be over with so I can figure out what options I’m going to have.”
Chances are if Jenkins leaves Green Bay, he’ll be leaving for a lucrative offer.
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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune