Thompson Right To Let Jenkins Go

Ted Thompson is making the right call in letting Cullen Jenkins hit free agency.

Cullen Jenkins spoke to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel yesterday and told the paper that he was "99 percent sure something won't happen" in regards to his contract possibly being extended by the Packers.

As I wrote yesterday, Ted Thompson has been stockpiling players at the defense end position for just this occasion. Not only did he draft Mike Neal and C.J. Wilson, both who showed promise as interior pass rushers last season, but he will most likely welcome back Johnny Jolly into the fold. Jolly won't help with the pass rush, but his presence on early downs was a big key to the Packers top rated run defense in 2009, which was a trouble spot all season long and especially in the Super Bowl. Jolly's return will allow defensive coordinator Dom Capers can send out Pickett, Raji and Jolly in his base in obvious running situations, allowing Neal and Wilson to rotate in when he goes to his 2-4-5 Nickel.

The fact of the matter is, you can't pay everybody. And Jenkins' advancing age and injury history, coupled with the fact that guys like Josh Sitton and Jermichael Finely will need to be addressed sooner rather than later along with Greg Jennings in another year - and Thompson's decision to let Jenkins walk makes all the sense in the world.

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Comments (25)

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David's picture

February 25, 2011 at 09:43 am

Agreed. Of course thats assuming Jolly will be reinstated, and/or the Packers bring him back. But I think he will be back.

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JohnRehor's picture

February 25, 2011 at 09:44 am

Does it suck that it's back to business for the Packers this soon after winning the SB? Yes.

Is letting Jenkins walk the smart business decision? Yes.

That's the conflict, and in the end the NFL is a business. Don't want to overpay for a player who is on the downside of his career when the future looks bright without him.

Good luck Cullen Jenkins

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Player 1's picture

February 25, 2011 at 09:46 am

I'm not sure Jolly's straight back in the fold just yet. However I do agree about Jenkins. Uncle Ted's made some tough choices to get rid of vets (most recently Al Harris) but has had confidence in the youngsters and the coaching staff. The money Jenkins would likely be after just doesn't make sense for a team that is pretty stacked with big players.

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PackerAaron's picture

February 25, 2011 at 09:52 am

I hear you on Jolly and I agree - but I'll be very, very surprised if they don't bring him back.

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stinkdaddy's picture

February 25, 2011 at 04:13 pm

Even if they don't they can still go Pickett/Raji/Green in base. It's a bummer, but a 30+ y.o. Nickel lineman with an injury history is not worth free agent money.

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ZeroTolerance's picture

February 25, 2011 at 11:20 pm

Green eats too much. Jolly will be jolly. Look for a big year from him. I can't see him being held out for more than one year, unless the NFL has more on him than we know.

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TheMills's picture

February 25, 2011 at 09:59 am

Does anybody know if Jolly has his "life in order" yet? If so, bring him back.

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Chad Toporski's picture

February 25, 2011 at 10:23 am

I'm wondering what Jolly's return would mean for Green.

My initial guess is they would keep Green around to help spell Jolly's first season back after a year off. After that, though, it would depend on Jolly's future with the Packers. These two players pretty much would be playing the same role on the defensive line, with Mike Neal coming in as the primary pass rusher.

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ZeroTolerance's picture

February 25, 2011 at 11:21 pm

With Neal and Jolly back, plus the draft, big Green is gone.

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al's picture

February 27, 2011 at 11:09 pm

Id rather keep Green. Green basically handed us that INT for TD in the Super Bowl. Lets all thank Mr. Green and appreciate him more. What was Jolly doing during the Superbowl for us? Sitting on his fat ass on his expensive couch eating doritos is my guess, whose doing the eating after all.

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DJ Walker's picture

February 25, 2011 at 10:30 am

People ring up Jolly as a problem child for slingin sizzurp, but forget he was the Packers best D-lineman in '09. Raji deservedly got tons of ink for rarely leaving the field last year, and that's how Jolly was in '09. A healthy Neal, year of experience CJ Wilson, Green and Jolly along with Pick and BJ and GB's D line could be straight nasty in 2011.

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PackersRS's picture

February 25, 2011 at 10:52 am

I just don't see anyone bringing the kind of pass rush Jenkins did on a regular basis.

Now, if the combination of Wilson and Neal can do it, or one of the other OLBs step up to provide constant pass rush, then he won't be missed.

But as of right now, we're losing BIG on pass defense. It'll be much easier for teams to focus on Matthews and Raji...

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Clev4's picture

February 25, 2011 at 10:53 am

Im all for letting Jenkins go but I don't understand why they didnt franchise him like corey williams. We could have then traded him and received more of those draft picks Ted Thompson loves. The only thing I can think of is that TT is worried about the CBA and not being able to trade a player meanwhile being stuck with that contract for the season. In that case he would not be able to extend people like finley towards this years money.

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ZeroTolerance's picture

February 25, 2011 at 11:23 pm

We don't need any more draft picks.

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afrenchpackersfan's picture

February 25, 2011 at 11:18 am

Am I the only one to find really weird the fact that the Packers do not have a real NT backup (except Pickett who is now used as a DE)? I think TT should draft a true NT in the late rounds to make the DL more sustainable...

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al's picture

February 27, 2011 at 11:11 pm

Howard Green could play NT. Its not really that complicated of a position. Not to say its not a hard job, but as backups go Green would probably be just as good as the next guy or a 7th round guy.

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DaveK's picture

February 25, 2011 at 12:09 pm

I really like Jenkins and wish he could stay a Packer. But, the defense showed they can win games without him even without Jolly or Neal in the rotation. I think TT has other priorities and Jenkins realizes that when they didn't talk to him at all about his contract the past year.

I try not to second guess TT anymore and my days of playing GM for the Packers are over but I would guess that Jackson will be back as he has more value to the Packers then anyone else and Jones/Colledge are guys that TT would have more reluctance to let go depending on the draft.

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asshalo's picture

February 25, 2011 at 01:35 pm

I am optimistic about Jolly, but very skeptical. He failed a ton of drug tests to get himself in the spot he's at now. I would bet a lot of money they take him back if he checks out with the league (i.e. drug tests), but that's a big what if to me.

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jdondlinger's picture

February 25, 2011 at 01:38 pm

Totally agree Aaron. While Jenkins is a very good player and I would have been fine with him coming back, the Packers have others who can fill in and do teh job. Neal is going to be a beast and Wilson showed some promise. Jolly coming back also is huge. Jenkins won't be that big of a loss.

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Oppy's picture

February 25, 2011 at 01:39 pm

I love Cullen Jenkins, and would love for him to stick around.

Unfortunately, his talent level is too high for his position in this defense. THe guy is capable of being a take-over-a-game type DE. He is an absolute luxury to have in a 3-4, but his talents will be better taken advantage of (and better compensated) in a 4-3 system somewhere else.

This is an unfortunate situation, but parting ways will end up being equally advantageous for both Cullen and the long term stability of the Packers. I Just wish Big Sexy wasn't taking it so personally.

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lebowski's picture

February 25, 2011 at 03:11 pm

I guess Minnesota will have their replacement for Ray Edwards.

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Wiscokid's picture

February 26, 2011 at 06:33 pm

I wouldn't be a bit surprised if the Queens signed Jenkins. They seem to like raiding the Packers roster whenever possible. It hurts us and helps them. I think they look at it as a win win scenario.

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Ruppert's picture

February 26, 2011 at 07:25 pm

I'm not sure the Vikings are going to have the money to be signing free agents. They already franchised Chad Greenway, and they're going to have to shell out some cash for Sidney Rice, and I read they may be thinking about re-doing Adrian Peterson's deal. And of course, they may be looking to pick up and pay a veteran QB, too. They might not have as much cash on hand as normal, either, what with 2 home games being removed from the Metrodump.

Favre's salary is falling off the books, though. It'll be interesting to see what kind of noise they make in free agency, and if a team full of old guys on defense targets another older guy.

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Nathan Jahnke's picture

February 28, 2011 at 12:46 am

While I agree in the business aspect it's right for him to leave-with his age, history of injury, and likelihood of some other team paying him nicely, I do think the Packers will miss him if we don't replace him. While Neal and Wilson will hopefully improve in their next year, Jenkins got pressure 11.2% of his pass rushes, while Wilson on 6.4% and Neal on 5.3%(although that is a small sample size). Even with some improvement, the young guys still won't match the productivity of Jenkins. Raji is the only other Packers d-linemen that I think is better at the pass than the run.

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mark's picture

February 28, 2011 at 02:48 pm

While you're never happy to see a guy like Jenkins go, I also agree that this is the right move. The big part for me is the age/injury history. Some combination of Neal/Jolly/Wilson should be able to help pick up the slack--and then there's the chance we grab a guy like Iowa's Christian Ballard late in round 1.

If he does leave, let me just say: THANK YOU FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP CULLEN JENKINS!!!! Everyone on this past year's team holds a special place in Packer history.

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