Today is the 22nd day of FOX Sports Wisconsin Packers writer Paul Imig’s offseason evaluations of every player on Green Bay’s roster. Click here for all of Paul’s previous evaluations and come back every day through mid-March for Paul’s in-depth film and statistical analysis. Coming up soon:
Today: WR Greg Jennings Tuesday, Feb. 19: S M.D. Jennings Wednesday, Feb. 20: LB Brad Jones Thursday, Feb. 21: WR James Jones Friday, Feb. 22: FB John Kuhn Saturday, Feb. 23: G T.J. Lang
Greg Jennings, wide receiver
Season stats: 10 games (eight regular season, two postseason); 46 receptions, 481 yards, 70 targets, five touchdowns, two dropped passes, 11 forced missed tackles
Best game: Week 17 loss at Minnesota (11 targets, eight catches, season-high 120 yards, 71 yards after catch, two touchdowns, two dropped passes, two forced missed tackles; season-best 2.6 PFF rating)
Worst game: Week 3 loss at Seattle (nine targets, six catches, 35 yards, 14 yards after catch (2.3 yards after catch average), one unsportsmanlike conduct penalty; season-worst minus-1.5 PFF rating)
ProFootballFocus.com season rating: 4.1 (No. 8 out of 25 among Packers offensive players; No. 4 out of 6 among Packers wide receivers; No. 51 out of 105 among NFL wide receivers)
Expectations at the start of the season: High
Expectations were … Not Met
Looking live: Jennings picked up in 2012 right where he left off at the end of the 2011 season; injured. Jennings missed the final three games in 2011 with a knee injury and suffered a significant concussion in the early weeks of training camp. A few weeks later, in the final moments of the Packers’ Week 1 loss to San Francisco, Jennings hobbled off the field with what was described at the time as a groin injury. He missed Week 2 and tried to play through it in Weeks 3 and 4 before sitting out seven consecutive games. During that time off, Jennings got a second medical opinion that revealed a core muscle injury (a rectus abdominis tear) that he decided to have surgery on. When Jennings returned in Week 13, it took him nearly a full month to start playing anything like the wide receiver who had been named to two consecutive Pro Bowls. Some rust was expected while Jennings got comfortable on the field again, but he was playing nearly every offensive snap and didn’t contribute more than 50 receiving yards in his first four games back. During Jennings’ best game of the season in Week 17 at Minnesota, his sister Valyncia went on a Twitter rant about how she thought quarterback Aaron Rodgers was “blatantly ignoring” her brother in the passing game. She also encouraged Jennings to leave Green Bay and “take (his) talents to South Beach and get paid.”
Upon further review: It was that type of season for Jennings. Even when he had his best game of the season by far, the Packers lost, and he had to answer questions about his sister’s nationally publicized negative tweets about Rodgers. Considering it was Jennings’ final season before hitting unrestricted free agency, it couldn’t have gone much worse. Jennings’ concussion in training camp kept him out 16 critical days, putting him behind schedule from the rest of the team’s wide receivers. Jennings’ Week 1 injury had him in recovery mode for more than three months, the result of which was a career-low 366 receiving yards in the regular season. His previous career-low was 632 yards as a rookie in 2006. As Jennings worked his way back (first early in the season as he tried to play through it and again later in the season after surgery), he didn’t look anything like the player who had three consecutive 1,000-plus yard seasons. That is somewhat understandable considering the injury, but it didn’t allow him to display his best skills heading into free agency and opened the door for questions about whether he’s still one of the NFL’s better receivers. At 5-11, 198 pounds, Jennings has always been undersized, but he’s made up for it with terrific route-running and an ability to stretch the field vertically. However, he only showed a fraction of that talent during the 2012 season.
Overall 2012 grade: C
Status for 2013: 10 percent chance of being on the Packers’ active roster in Week 1. If general manager Ted Thompson had plans to keep Jennings a part of Green Bay’s roster in 2013, there would’ve been more negotiations about a contract extension when the two parties had a chance to do so exclusively. Jennings will turn 30 in September and will likely get a contract offer from another team that far exceeds what the Packers were interested in paying him. However, if Jennings doesn’t get the interest in free agency that he expects, there’s a small possibility that he returns to Green Bay on a short-term, small-dollar deal that is very team-friendly. But, with Randall Cobb emerging as one of the NFL’s best young wide receivers and Jordy Nelson and James Jones both still under contract, the Packers have the talent at that position to feel fairly confident about moving on without Jennings.