Packers shouldn't bring back Greg Jennings

Pete Dougherty
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Vikings receiver Greg Jennings celebrates a reception against the Cardinals.

Any talk of Greg Jennings returning to the Green Bay Packers should be a nonstarter.

The former Packers wide receiver has been available since the Minnesota Vikings cut him March 14, and in interviews this week he's left open the possibility of a return to the franchise where he played his first seven seasons. But unless he'd be willing to come back as their No. 4 receiver, which is unlikely, there's no reason for the Packers to sign him.

Ever since general manager Ted Thompson signed Randall Cobb just before the start of the free-agent signing period, the Packers' need vanished for anything other than a deep backup at that position. Their No. 3 is 2014 second-round pick Davante Adams, and they shouldn't do anything to slow his growth. Sacrificing even one Adams snap for a 31-year-old on the downside of his career would make no sense and leave the Packers worse off by season's end.

The Packers have been there before.

In 2011, they played 36-year-old Donald Driver ahead of second-round draft pick Cobb in their receiver rotation — according to Pro Football Focus, Driver's 521 snaps nearly doubled Cobb's 290.

Driver was a beloved player and had an excellent career with the Packers, but by that point he was well into decline. Cobb, on the other hand, had shown from Day One that he was a dynamic runner with the ball in his hands. At minimum Driver's and Cobb's roles should have been reversed.

No harm done during the Packers' 15-1 regular season. But it eventually hurt them in their divisional-round playoff loss to the New York Giants, who sometimes covered Driver from the slot with a linebacker.

Driver's stats were OK in that game (three catches for 45 yards and one touchdown), but he wasn't explosive enough to punish the Giants on a day the Packers needed someone deep in their receiving corps to do something big. If the Packers had lived with the growing pains by playing Cobb ahead of Driver earlier in the season, the rookie would have had a better chance of making a game-changing play or two with the season on the line that day in January.

Signing Jennings for any role other than the No. 4 and as insurance against injury would be a similar and really even worse mistake with Adams now in his second season. And it's hard to think Jennings would consider that kind of offer when there probably are a few teams out there that will want him as at least a No. 3.

Green Bay Packers safety Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix (21) gives up a catch to receiver Greg Jennings (15) against the Minnesota Vikings during Thursday night's game at Lambeau Field.

That's not even taking into account potential locker-room issues with the Packers. As many have pointed out, Jennings has been on bad terms with quarterback Aaron Rodgers since he left for Minnesota in 2013, and there's no reason to think anything has changed on that front in the last two years.

It started during Jennings' final season with the Packers when his sister Valyncia ranted about Rodgers on Twitter during a loss to Minnesota. Among other things, she said Rodgers was overrated and repeatedly ignoring her brother when he was open. I know I strongly suspected she was repeating complaints Jennings had made to family members, and you have to think Rodgers thought the same.

Jennings' lukewarm response to the tweets after the game didn't help. He expressed disappointment that she put him in the news, but he also said there wasn't much he could do about her expressing her feelings publicly.

By the final month of that season, it was clear in his sessions with reporters that Jennings felt rejected because the Packers weren't offering the kind of contract he was likely to get on the open market. Rejection hurts, and when Jennings signed with the Vikings in the spring of 2013 he lashed out. Among other things he suggested in an interview with the Minneapolis Star-Tribune that Rodgers had shortcomings as a leader and wasn't always accountable for mistakes.

I just don't see Rodgers forgiving and forgetting when he doesn't need to. Like Tom Brady, he's still mad about where he was drafted (No. 24 overall in 2005) even though he's a premier player in the league. I doubt he has any desire to reunite with Jennings when he has Jordy Nelson, Cobb and Adams as his top three, plus two interesting prospects behind them in 2014 draft picks Jared Abbrederis (fifth round) and Jeff Janis (seventh round).

It's not that everybody on an NFL team has to be friends or even get along. But if a quarterback such as Rodgers, Brady, Peyton Manning or Drew Brees doesn't want a receiver on his team, that receiver won't be on the team.

So even though Jennings has at least a couple years left in the NFL, there's little reason to think he'll play again with the Packers.

— and follow him on Twitter @PeteDougherty

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