Barring some unforeseen shift in both negotiation and opinion, the Green Bay Packers have likely played their last contest with both Greg Jennings and Donald Driver.
The Packers returned from Saturday’s 45-31 season-ending loss in San Francisco to clean out lockers and speak to the media, and neither player sounded even remotely confident in continuing their NFL careers in Green Bay.
“At the end of the day, the Packers are going to do what’s best for the Packers,” Jennings said, according to Scott Venci of the Green Bay Press-Gazette. “That’s not going to change, whether you are No. 4, No. 80, No. 85. They are going do do what’s best for the Packers. As the other half of the businessman sitting at the table, I have to do what’s best for myself and my family.”
Jennings, 29, is an unrestricted free agent this spring and will be free to sign with whichever team he chooses. His four-year, $26.885 million deal signed in 2009 expires after this season. While it is expected that Jennings will find one last big deal, the Packers aren’t likely to be the franchise obliging his monetary request.
Driver, a 14-year veteran who was drafted by the Packers in 1999, sounded just as pessimistic that the Green Bay would extend his career there another season.
“I haven’t made a decision on what I’m going to do. I’ll probably leave out of here today or the first thing in the morning,” Driver said. “Don’t know what’s going to happen. I feel like I can still play. I feel I’ve proven that. Just going to see what’s out there for me. If the Packers want me back, I’ll come back. It may not work here, but it may work somewhere else.”
Driver also made it clear that his goal remains to play in the NFL until he’s 40 years old, or two more full years. Driver turns 38 in February.
Green Bay is unlikely to award him that opportunity.
The Packers gave Driver a one-year, $2.3 million deal in May of last year. The contract included an initial roster bonus of $1.2 million, which all but guaranteed Driver would make the final 53-man roster. However, what followed was Driver’s most unproductive season since his rookie season in 1999. The veteran caught just eight passes for 77 yards and two touchdowns, and Green Bay made a healthy Driver inactive in both Week 17 and the NFC Wild Card Round and four of the last six games.
Now, both Driver and Jennings could be wearing different uniforms in 2013.
When asked if there was a difficult part about leaving the only franchise he’s ever known, Jennings instead sounded ready to take on another challenge in another city.
“I don’t know if there is a difficult part,” Jennings said. “Like I said, I’m excited for the future. Football is going to be football I’m excited for that.”
As recently as 2009, the Packers received 1,000-yard seasons from both Jennings and Driver. Overall, the two have combined to catch 1,168 passes for 16,674 yards and 114 touchdowns over 21 total seasons in Green Bay.
With 743 receptions and 10,137 yards, Drivers ranks first in Packers franchise history in both categories. Jennings is seventh in both receptions (425) and yards (6,537).
The Miami Dolphins, who are led by former Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin, could be a potential landing spot for both players. Free agency begins in early March.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.