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Green Bay Packers' Cullen Jenkins not optimistic for new contract

Feb. 8, 2011
 
Green Bay Packers defensive end Cullen Jenkins celebrates a sack of Jay Cutler in the the NFC championship game against the Chicago Bears  on Jan. 23  at Soldier Field in Chicago.
Green Bay Packers defensive end Cullen Jenkins celebrates a sack of Jay Cutler in the the NFC championship game against the Chicago Bears on Jan. 23 at Soldier Field in Chicago. / Evan Siegle/Press-Gazette

Cullen Jenkins opened up the two cabinets near the top of his locker and showed off the insides Tuesday — emptiness. He then flipped open the trunk portion on the floor — emptiness.

Jenkins stood answering questions from the Wisconsin media, possibly for the final time, after the Return To Titletown celebration at Lambeau Field. Jenkins will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason and there have been no official talks about re-signing the defensive end.

“This is the first time it’s ever been like this since I’ve been here,” Jenkins said about his locker. “It was strange, too, when I was cleaning it out. … I always knew that I’d be back next year.

“It’s a little different, but it is what it is.”

Jenkins said his agent met with the Packers twice during the year and “they talked about possibly talking.” Not exactly a great sign.

“If something’s not done, I won’t be surprised,” Jenkins said. “By this point I’ll be more surprised if something is done.”

Jenkins stood with two white bags by his side on the floor. They were filled with personal property and a few signed items from teammates. There was just a look of finality.

Jenkins has sent his wife and kids back to his hometown of Belleville, Mich., and he was on his way, too. There’s a fishing trip planned in the near future.

“It’s real tough, we’ve always stayed up here in Green Bay even when the season’s over to let the kids finish out school. But they’ve already moved out and I’m on my way out now.

“This is definitely a bit different for us.”

Jenkins played the first seven years of his career in Green Bay after signing as an undrafted free agent in 2003. He ranked No. 2 on the Super Bowl champions with seven sacks despite playing with a broken hand early in the season and being inactive three weeks with a calf injury.

It’s an odd situation where he is still a very productive player and a leader in the locker room, but rookie Mike Neal was a second-round draft pick in 2010 and the team has seemed to move on.

“The way the guys upstairs approach things, it can make you feel a little unappreciated,” Jenkins said. “Like they don’t see you in their future plans. When you’re down in the locker room, you hear the way the guys talk. I like to think I bring a lot of knowledge and experience as well. I’m constantly working with the young guys.

“It’s one of those thing where you get a different feeling from both ways.”

There was no question Jenkins wanted an extension throughout the season, but he never let it become a distraction. Donald Driver, Charles Woodson, Desmond Bishop and Tramon Williams all received new deals along the way as Jenkins sat and watched.

“I don’t know if it’s frustrating, maybe a little bit,” he said. “You see everybody else get done. Obviously, during the season you try not to think about it and put it out of your mind. … Now I can reflect on all the stuff and maybe examine on how you feel you were treated and how things went. Just the whole package.

“My family, they were a little disappointed with how things went. I have to figure out where they would like to be or where they would like to go because of this whole situation. … A lot of different things I have to weigh in on.”

Jenkins is considered damaged goods by some. The hand injury and then the calf — which Jenkins pointed out was not sustained by kicking field goals. It happened before the first Vikings game in a warmup drill. Jenkins also noted that a pectoral injury in 2008 has been the only time he was placed on injured reserve.

But Jenkins seemed content with the situation. He was a starter on a Super Bowl team and made $9 million in base salary on his four-year deal signed in 2007.

Oh, and Jenkins now has one more Super Bowl ring than his older brother Kris, who plays on the New York Jets.

“I’m pretty confident in what I can do,” Jenkins said. “I know there’ll be some place for me. I prefer that it be here.

“They can never take this away from me. Obviously it won’t be as much fun.”

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