Packers Roster Countdown: Part 18

WR Greg Jennings (Matt Ludtke/Getty)

Our list of the Packers' most important players continues with No. 8 on our list, Greg Jennings, and No. 9, Jordy Nelson. Combined, they form one of the best duos in the league, not to mention an interesting case study in receiver salaries.

As we've done in past years, we're counting down the Green Bay Packers' roster, from No. 90 to No. 1.

These rankings are not simply based on skill. Players were ranked on their importance to the team. Skill, a player's position, the depth of his position group, the odds he contributes, salary and draft history all play a part in how a player is ranked. More than the ranking itself, hopefully you will learn a little something about each of the 90 players in the process.

No. 8: Payday on the way

Vincent Jackson got $55.5 million over five years from Tampa Bay.

Pierre Garcon got $42.5 million over five years to go to Washington.

Marques Colston got $40 million over five years to stay in New Orleans.

Laurent Robinson, who wasn't even a one-year wonder for Dallas, got $32.5 million to go to Jacksonville.

Given those outrageous numbers thrown around during free agency this offseason, how much might Greg Jennings earn if he reaches the free-agent market after this season?

Jennings, despite missing the final three regular-season games, caught 67 passes for 949 yards and eight touchdowns. At the time of his knee sprain, Jennings ranked 10th in the league in receptions and 13th in yards. Among receivers who played at least 50 percent of their team's snaps, Jennings ranked sixth with a catch percentage of 69.8.

One of the game's great deep threats, Jennings leads the NFL with 58 catches of 25-plus yards over the last five seasons. Over the last three seasons, he's fourth with 3,800 yards. Had he not sat out those three games, he might have been No. 1 on that list, which is topped by Calvin Johnson (4,002).

Jennings, who turns 29 on Sept. 21, is tied for sixth in franchise history with 49 touchdown catches, is seventh with 389 catches and eighth with 6,171 receiving yards. With a decent season of 70 catches, 1,000 yards and eight touchdowns, Jennings would move to fourth in touchdowns and fifth in receptions and yards. At this rate — and assuming he's re-signed — he'll shatter Donald Driver's numbers as the most productive receiver in Packers history.

No. 9: How about an encore?

Maybe it was to an extreme, but Jordy Nelson's performance in the Super Bowl (nine catches, 140 yards, one touchdown, four drops) was his career in a nut shell. Three seasons into the league, Nelson had 100 catches, 1,268 yards and six touchdowns.

Then came 2011, with his 68 catches, 1,263 yards and 15 touchdowns. His touchdown total trailed only Sterling Sharpe and Hall of Famer Don Hutson in franchise history. His 18.6-yard average trailed only Hall of Famer James Lofton (22.0 in 1984) among Packers receivers with at least 60 catches and was behind only Victor Cruz (18.7) among NFL receivers with at least 40 grabs.

After scoring two touchdowns in each of his first three seasons, Nelson had at least two touchdowns in four games, including a three-score game against Detroit. Including the Super Bowl, Nelson entered the season with two 100-yard games. Last year, Nelson had five. Quarterbacks had a 150.2 rating on passes to Nelson, a full 18 points better than second-place Colston. Among receivers who played at least 50 percent of their team's snaps, Nelson ranked third with a catch percentage of 73.1.

What does Nelson do for an encore? Matching those numbers might be impossible, but as Nelson showed in Week 17 against Detroit, he can beat a defense any which way. His first touchdown was a 7-yarder in which he played the role of tractor-trailer against a cornerback playing the role of mosquito. The second was a 36-yard touchdown in which Nelson showed his speed and leaping ability. The third was a 58-yard touchdown in which he showed his strong hands by hanging onto the ball even while a defender tried to rip it away at the goal line.

"I don't think anything is really going to change too much," Nelson said. "My expectation is to go out and play well every week. At our position, I don't think you can set a goal that I'm going to have 1,200 yards because a defense can double-cover you every game and might not even catch a ball. You could be out there and be the second read and Aaron hit the first read, so I just want to go out and prepare well, and do what I'm supposed to do and make the most of it, and hopefully that will continue."

If you missed ...

Defining season for Shields: 10

Finley, Burnett and ...: 11-15

Three O-linemen: 16-20

Some surprises: 21-25

Safety dance: 26-30

Bush and four on offense: 31-35

Two DL and Driver: 36-40

Make-or-break camp for two vets: 41-45

Going hog wild: 46-50

Rookies at key positions: 51-55

Gurley's detours: 56

Fighting for jobs: 57-60

Five defenders: 61-65

Don't be surprised if ...: 66-70

It's Noah's Ark: 71-81

Roster long shots: 82-89

Longest of long shots: 90


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.

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