In the NBA we’ve seen a trend develop where teams look to trade their superstar players in the final season to prevent them from walking away leaving them with nothing. So as a general manager with a star player in the last year of his contract and with the chance of resigning him bleak what do you do?
Do you trade the player hoping to acquire draft picks to reload? Do you try to acquire young players and swap with a team looking for an immediate answer? But the Packers have championship aspirations for this season. Do you trade a playmaker while trying to make a championship run?
The Packers will likely be unable to afford Jennings who is already the 9th highest paid wide receiver in the league at $9.2 million. Wide receiver Vincent Jackson just recently signed a deal with Tampa Bay that averaged out at $11.1 million and you could expect Jennings to settle for nothing less.
In reality he is probably aiming for a deal similar to Larry Fitzgerald’s $16.1 million a year deal. Jennings and Fitzgerald share an agent in Eugene Parker who negotiated that deal with Arizona last year. A large contract for any team to take on.
And as we’ve touched on the future the Packers need to keep the young stars in mind before awarding a large contract to a receiver who’ll be 29 in a week and turn 30 years old next season. Marshall Newhouse, Morgan Burnett and Jermichael Finley all will be unrestricted free agents in March 2014. The following spring Clay Matthews and BJ Raji become free agents. And Aaron Rodgers contract expires March 2015.
The Packers are middle of the pack with $6.7 million currently available under the cap. The salary cap doesn’t look to increase too much any time soon. A franchise tag would be worth about $10 million and not do much but delay the inevitable and maybe put Jennings in a place to be more demanding in negotiations.
And would you want to spend that much on the oft injured star. The packers already had him leave in the 4th quarter last week with a groin injury and he is expected to miss this week’s game against the rival Chicago Bears. Last year he missed 3 weeks after suffering a sprained medial collateral knee ligament in December against Oakland. He came back to play the Giants in the playoffs and injured his ribs.
Jennings has always been one to persevere through injuries and play hurt. He’s always willing to take a hit and play on. But at 5’11” and 198 pounds you have to wonder how much more punishment he could continue to take.
If they let Jennings leave because Jordy Nelson and James Jones have proved to be suitable receivers they’d get a compensatory pick in the 2014 draft. Since 1996 no one has received a compensatory pick higher than the 91st, a late third round selection. So wouldn’t it benefit the Packers to trade Jennings and try and receive better draft picks and in 2013 even? Maybe a first or second round selection.
“Everybody will posture as high as they can get,” an executive in personnel said. “But I would think Green Bay would be comfortable taking a second-round pick. It’s much better to get something for him than just let him go in free agency.
“I certainly would be comfortable with a two. Pushing 30. Injury stuff. Has had a little bit of a slow start. He’s looking for a lot of money so people will say, ‘I have to pay this amount of money; I don’t know if I want to give up the one and the money.'”
The Cowboys traded a first, third and sixth round pick for Roy Williams in 2008 and Jennings is a better receiver than Williams was. Detroit used that pick to get tight end Brandon Pettigrew. Bill Belicheck traded a 27 year old Deion Branch to Seattle for a first round pick. The Vikings traded Randy Moss to Oakland for a first round pick, and the Bills sent Peerless Price to Atlanta for a first round pick. Dallas acquired Joey Galloway from Seattle for two first round picks. The list goes on an on but there is a precedent that is estalished for this kind of move.
Miami, Buffalo, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Oakland, Carolina, Seattle and St. Louis headline the list of desirable locations. Most of those teams have young or even rookie quarterbacks who could benefit from having a reliable receiver who is unselfish.
The Dolphins have extra draft picks in the second, third, sixth and seventh rounds. They lack talent at the position too having traded Brandon Marshall to the Bears and cutting Chad Ochocinco this preseason.
The Rams have an extra first round choice.
It would benefit the Packers greatly to trade Jennings to acquire a pick and try to work on replacing some aging stars like Charles Woodson. With a deep receiver core it’d be easy for the Packers to survive without Jennings.