GREEN BAY – Greg Jennings and Donald Driver came to a realization Wednesday: While the Green Bay Packers are assured of at least one home playoff game by virtue of their NFC North division title, Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans could very well be the veteran wide receivers’ last at Lambeau Field.
“’Drive’ and I were talking about that today. I’m like, ‘Man, it’s a real possibility that could be the case. Absolutely,’” Jennings said after practice. “Whenever that last game, is I’m definitely going to take my time walking around the stadium and giving high fives to fans – just in case, because I don’t know.”
While Jennings doesn’t know for certain what the future holds – in case you haven’t heard, he’ll be an unrestricted free agent after the season – he also said Wednesday that based on the fact that the team hasn’t made any sort of contract offer to him, and past free agents-to-be (center Scott Wells, defensive end Cullen Jenkins) who had the same thing happen to them ultimately left for other teams, he has a pretty good idea.
“Sometimes you look on the wall and you see a lot of writing. And it’s hard to ignore that writing as a player,” Jennings said. “The writing is on the wall. I’m not going to walk by it and act as if it’s not there.
“Everything is going to play itself out. Who knows how, but it’s going to play itself out eventually. Right now, all I’m trying to do is make sure I do my part with the opportunities I’m given.”
Jennings enters Sunday’s game having caught 21 passes for 201 yards and one touchdown in the six games he’s played this season. He missed the other eight with a groin/lower abdominal muscle injury that required Nov. 1 surgery, and in the three games he’s played since returning, he’s caught four passes for 46 yards again Minnesota on Dec. 2, one pass for 27 yards against Detroit on Dec. 9 and four passes for 50 yards last Sunday at Chicago.
In the meantime, Randall Cobb has a team-high 77 receptions for 892 yards and seven touchdowns, and James Jones has caught career-high 51 passes for 622 yards and an NFL-best 12 touchdowns.
“If these guys were jerks it would be different. But we’re all so close,” Jennings said. “I mean, Cobb is literally like a little brother. Literally. I know we say that figuratively, but he’s really like a little brother to me. James, he’s the godfather of my middle daughter. So I have this relationship with him. Jordy (Nelson) is not the godfather of my daughter, but Jordy and I always been close. We have a great relationship on and off the field. I love that they’re having success.
“It’s not uncommon that that’s going to take place a game here, a game there where guys are going to be left out, so to speak. It has happened before. It’s just under the microscope now because I’m coming back (from injury), (in) contract year, everybody wants to see ‘Oh, how is he going to respond?’ All this stuff. None of this is anything new. It’s not new. Other guys have stepped up and made plays before. We’ve had success with that. I’m excited about the position I’m in. I’m excited to be back playing. There was a time when there was a possibility I wasn’t even going to be able to step back onto the field this year. So I’m just excited to be back out there.”
One thing Jennings would not be excited about: The possibility of Packers putting the franchise tag on him – which is an option, given his injury-plagued season, and the relatively manageable cost of roughly $10 million.
Asked if the tag was a slap in the face, Jennings replied, “Yes. Nothing good about it. You don’t see (New England wide receiver) Wes Welker smiling about it.
“You want your job to have some sense of sustainability, some foundation where you can just sit your family and know you’ll be somewhere for a certain amount of time. Well, franchise tags give you one year. So it’s like, ‘OK, we’ve got one year.’ Who knows? I’ll be in the same position talking about contract situation all over again. it’s just not clear. It’s not in the best interest of the player to be in that position.”
While Jennings said his possible final games with the packers will have “a ton of emotion,” he also acknowledged that the Packers don’t owe him anything, despite a terrific career that has seen him log 410 receptions for 6,372 yards and 50 touchdowns since joining the team as a second-round pick from Western Michigan in 2006.
“At the end of the day, the only thing an organization really owes you is a paycheck. That’s it. That is absolutely it,” Jennings said. “When you get raw and uncut about it, the only thing they really owe you is a paycheck. And they can stop that if they want to. So it’s a sensitive subject, a sensitive topic to talk about, but the reality is, we’re going to have to cross that bridge at some point. But right now, we don’t have to. We’re playing Tennessee and I’m part of that game.”
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