Leading up to free agency, word on the street was that Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings was looking for $12 million per year. Four days into the signing-period whirlwind, Jennings, who will turn 30 in September, agreed to terms with the Vikings on a five-year, $47.5 million deal that included a $10 million signing bonus and $18 million guaranteed.
An average salary $9 million is nice, but it ain't $12 million. But, at the top of this game in 2012, Jennings passed up a chance to earn $11 million a year on a multi-year extension offered up by the Packers, a source told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Bob McGinn.
Jennings then suffered a concussion in training camp, and a subsequent abdominal injury sidetracked the 2012 season and deflated his value. But the Packers still wanted to keep him, just not at his suggested retail price. Instead, they reportedly had an offer on the table that would pay Jennings roughly $8 million a season.
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Put another way: it was worth an extra million per year to trade in Aaron Rodgers for Christian Ponder and play for the Packers' division rival. (We know, that's oversimplifying things a bit; guaranteed money and salaries in the first few seasons are better gauge of a contract's true value, but our overall point remains.)
But this wasn't a two-horse race; Jennings had other suitors. And not just some middling NFL team desperate for a splashy free-agent signing and with big needs at wideout (incidentally, Dolphins coach Joe Philbin was reportedly lukewarm on Jennings). The Patriots offered Jennings a deal averaging $6 million a year, but talks didn't get very far, a source told McGinn.
In the end, Jennings got what he wanted: more money, even if it came at the expense of playing with one of the league's best quarterbacks. And there's nothing wrong with that; NFL careers are notoriously short, and Pro Bowlers one year can be looking for work the next. We'll never begrudge a player for getting all he can, while he can. It's just that Jennings' actions suggest that money was more important than winning. (Yes, the Vikings went 10-6 last season. But if you had to bet your house on either Green Bay or Minnesota winning the Super Bowl in the next three years, whom are you taking? Exactly.)
This is the same point that CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman made Friday.
"So Jennings made the classic decision," Freeman wrote. "He got his money, but his career is all downhill from here. The Packers will continue to fight for Super Bowls, and Jennings will disappear like he's wearing a cloaking device.
"When news broke, I contacted a Packers player for reaction, and he texted: 'I don't blame Greg at all. I just think he made a mistake. He went from prime rib to Burger King.'"