Will the Packers Play Tag With Greg Jennings?

Greg Jennings - Franchise Tag

As the clock ticked down on January 12, FOX cameras caught a very powerful shot of Aaron Rodgers bumping fists with wide receiver Greg Jennings. This was presumably Rodgers’ way of saying goodbye, as the Packers season had ended at the hands of the San Francisco 49ers. With the end of the season came the uncertainty of the future of Jennings.

Jennings is a player who has been productive in his time with the Packers, averaging 61 catches per season since he was drafted in the 2nd round in 2006. Jennings is responsible for plenty of great moments in a Packers uniform. He caught Brett Favre’s record breaking 421 touchdown pass, and scored two touchdowns in the Packers Super Bowl XLV triumph. With all of these positive attributes, why would the Packers consider letting their top receiver walk away? The answer is simple; the Packers have enough depth at Jennings’ position to withstand the blow losing him would be. Jordy Nelson led the league in touchdowns two seasons ago, James Jones led the league in touchdowns last season, and Randall Cobb had a breakout season, allowing the Packers to feel comfortable with letting Jennings walk.

Conventional wisdom was this was all but done. Jennings was sure to be playing in another uniform next season, and the Packers would not apply much resistance. Until a report surfaced this weekend from various media outlets, including Profootballtalk.com, and Packer Report that the Packers are considering using the franchise tag on Greg Jennings.

By using the franchise tag the Packers would agree to pay Jennings the average salary of the top 5 at his position. That would net Jennings around 10 million for the 2013 season. A salary that sounds astronomical, but in retrospect the Packers would just be replacing recently released Charles Woodson’s salary with Jennings. Tagging Jennings would give the Packers options. Jennings’ situation is not like Matt Flynn’s a season ago. Last off-season many speculated the Packers would tag Flynn in hopes of dealing him for a high draft pick. The difference between Jennings situation, and Flynn’s is if the Packers were unable to reach a trade for Jennings, he would still play for them.  If the Packers were to tag Jennings I suspect that the top motivation would be to trade him for a pick in April’s draft. Such a maneuver is discouraged by the NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, but teams always find a way to work around those things.

Another option the Packers would have is attempting to sign Jennings to an extension. This is an unlikely scenario because if they wanted to extend Jennings, it is likely they would have already done so.

The potential of tagging Jennings also affects another Packers pass catcher, enigmatic tight end Jermichael Finley. It has been often reported that it is likely the Packers would have to choose between Jennings and Finley going into next season. That assumption is logical considering Finley’s cap hit is 8.25 million dollars next season, and wrapping 18 million dollars into two players would not make financial sense.  Reports surfaced in early December that the Packers had finally reached their tipping point with Finley and were ready to part ways with him. A light bulb seemed to turn on for Finley in the last part of the season, so much so that Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy has gone out of his way to praise Finley’s performance more than once. There is also far less depth at Finley’s position. Unlike wide receiver where there are players with potential to be as dynamic as Jennings, no such player exists at tight end to replace Finley. Tom Crabtree is a blocker, Ryan Taylor is a special teams player, and D.J. Williams has failed to show anything while actually wearing pads.

The reports coming out this weekend of the Packers possible intentions to tag Jennings are surprising and potentially exciting. There is a possibility that Ted Thompson is looking to bring the band back together for one final run before retooling. The likeliest scenario is that the Packers will have to choose between Finley and Jennings, and will choose Finley because he is already under contract and would cost less now, and going forward.

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Jacob Westendorf is a writer at PackersTalk.com. You can follow Jacob on twitter at

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