The end of minicamp wasn’t the only dose of good news for Greg Jennings
With players filing out of the locker room for the last time until training camp begins Aug. 1, Jennings walked in fresh off of signing a three-year contract extension. The deal will keep the big-play receiver in Green Bay through 2012.
“I’m all smiles. I always have been,” he said.
Agent Eugene Parker was not immediately available for comment. On Tuesday, reports were the extension would add between $27 million and $30 million on top of his current deal, which had one-year remaining at near the league-minimum $530,000.
Not a bad gift on the eve of his wedding anniversary.
“I’m at a time in my life where I just signed a new deal, I’m excited about it,” said Jennings, whose second child was born on Easter. “I haven’t seen my wife. Our anniversary is tomorrow. So, I’ve got a lot to celebrate.”
If accurate and if Jennings’ performance allows him to reach that higher figure, he’d be averaging $7.63 million per season. That would trail only Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald ($10 million average), Tampa Bay’s Antonio Bryant ($9.6 million as franchise player), Seattle’s T.J. Houshmandzadeh ($8 million average), Dallas’ Roy Williams ($7.8 million average) and Houston’s Andre Johnson ($7.75 million average).
“I really try not to compare myself to other guys across the league,” Jennings said. “I am who I am. We have some great guys that play this position at a high level, and I just want to be the best that I can be. If people view me as one of the best at this position, then so be it. It’s an honor to have those accolades. I have to be who I am, and that’s Greg Jennings, a Green Bay Packer player trying to help this team win.”
Jennings is coming off the finest season of his brief career, posting 80 catches for 1,292 yards and nine touchdowns. In his last two seasons, he has 21 touchdown receptions, a figure that trails Randy Moss (34), Terrell Owens (25) and Fitzgerald (22). Even after his production fell late in the season, Jennings still led the NFL with eight receptions of 40-plus yards and trailed only Smith with 21 receptions of 20-plus yards.
Jennings’ productivity has risen every season, from 45 catches as a rookie to 53 in 2007 and 80 in 2008, which also was the first time he played all 16 games.
“We’re excited for Greg Jennings’ future here, there is no doubt,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “I think Greg is a young man that has developed here in Green Bay and I can’t say enough about him personally. I like the way he goes about his business, and he is definitely well deserving of this contract. I’m excited for Greg.
Unlike Pro Bowl safety Nick Collins, who skipped much of the offseason work as he enters the final season of his five-year rookie deal, Jennings never made an issue of his contract. He says he talked with Parker perhaps once a month, though that changed recently as the two sides drew closer to a deal.
“I didn’t want it to be a distraction, not only to my teammates but to myself,” Jennings said. “I didn’t know hardly anything. When I was telling you guys I didn’t know, I didn’t know. I really didn’t know.”
With a wife, two kids, growing acclaim on the field and a new contract, what’s going to drive Jennings in the future?
“Just keep getting better, to keep being a positive example and just being who I am,” he said. “I’ve never been one to let things change who I am, my personality, my character. Not a diva receiver, never have been a diva receiver. If I start to become a diva receiver — that would never happen. That’s not in my character. That’s not who I am. I’ve always tried to be within myself, my own personality.”
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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 email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.