At least for now, it appears as if free agent defensive lineman Cullen Jenkins has more interest in returning to Green Bay than the Packers do in working out even the beginnings of a reunion.
Despite the lack of reported interest from Green Bay, Jenkins’ agent confirmed that the Packers fulfill the conditions Jenkins is looking for in his next team.
“He wants to go where he’s going to get an opportunity to play and be a part of a team that has a chance to compete for the Super Bowl,” agent Brian Levy told Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette. “I think Green Bay provides him with both those opportunities.”
Levy’s comments jive with what Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported shortly after Jenkins was released by the Philadelphia Eagles in late February.
According to Silverstein’s source—who very well could have been Levy—Jenkins “would be interested in returning” to Green Bay.
The Packers have not replicated the interest, at least publicly. Jenkins has made official visits to four NFL cities, but Green Bay hasn’t been one, and there’s nothing to suggest a scheduling is imminent.
However, that doesn’t mean there won’t ever be interest from the Packers’ side.
One important detail from both Levy and Silverstein’s source might provide reason why there eventually could be: Jenkins never wanted to bolt Green Bay back in 2011.
Levy told Dougherty that Jenkins’ seven years with the Packers would be another factor working in their favor, and that he thought Jenkins “didn’t want to leave in the first place.” Silverstein was also told that Jenkins “wanted to stay” back in 2011.
Such a reality could mean Jenkins’ asking price to return to Green Bay is considerably less than what he would desire from other clubs.
At some monetary point, any risk of adding Jenkins would be eliminated for general manager Ted Thompson and the potential return suddenly worth the gamble.
Keep in mind, Jenkins is 32 years old. His best role moving forward—especially for a contender—is a rotational one, as his days of playing 80-90 percent of defensive snaps are almost certainly in the rear view mirror. The price tag wasn’t going to be a substantial one to begin with.
Jenkins’ visits around the NFL show there is some level of outside interest, but it’s also worth noting that he’s left each city without a deal in place. These meet-and-greets might be nothing more than a test of the waters before free agency begins on March 12.
Once a more clear market for defensive linemen is established during free agency, Jenkins can get serious about finding his next home.
By then, the Packers might feel more comfortable starting discussions, especially if Thompson doesn’t agree to a deal with fellow free agent Chris Canty, who visited Green Bay Wednesday and Thursday.
If those discussions did in fact happen, one could only assume that what the Packers can offer—a chance at a Super Bowl, the opportunity to play a defined role and franchise familiarity—would put Green Bay in the driver’s seat to sign Jenkins, potentially at a price that would make it difficult for Thompson to say no to.
Jenkins has made his unique interest in returning to Green Bay obvious. Depending how far down money is on his free-agent check list, Jenkins could facilitate such a scenario by making his return a fiscally-smart gamble for his old team.
Zach Kruse is a 24-year-old sports writer who contributes to Cheesehead TV, Bleacher Report and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He also covers prep sports for the Dunn Co. News. You can reach him on Twitter @zachkruse2 or by email at email@example.com.