Jennings passed on $8 million from Packers
GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Green Bay Packers chose to invest another day Friday after they drew a line in the financial sand and ended up losing wide receiver Greg Jennings and tight end Tom Crabtree in free agency.
Sources familiar with negotiations said Jennings had an offer averaging about $8 million from the Packers before he took a five-year contract from the Minnesota Vikings that averaged about $9 million. He received a $10 million signing bonus and guarantees worth $18 million.
At roughly the same time, Crabtree accepted a two-year, $1.6 million deal from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when the Packers wouldn't budge off their one-year offer worth about $700,000.
So the Packers entered the weekend a total of $18.719 million under their adjusted salary cap of $131.326 million without two players — a former Pro Bowler and a functional journeyman — at two of their deepest positions.
In 2012, when Jennings was near the peak of his powers, a source said talks on a multiyear extension ended when he turned down $11 million per year from the Packers, which was far less than the $15 million that he told the team he was seeking.
Then Jennings suffered the second concussion of his career in training camp and sat out 2 1/2 weeks. Returning for the opener, he suffered an abdominal injury, aggravated it in Game 4 and sat out four games before undergoing surgery Nov. 1.
Jennings returned in Game 12 and finished the season, but by then he was labeled as an injury risk for having missed 11 of the previous 22 games.
The Packers could have all but guaranteed Jennings' return by applying the one-year franchise tag worth $10.537 million.
When the club didn't, Jennings became an unrestricted free agent Tuesday afternoon and appeared eager to find a new home.
The Vikings traded wide receiver Percy Harvin to Seattle for first- and seventh-round draft choices in April and a third-round pick in 2014.
Harvin's five-year, $67 million extension with the Seahawks included a $12 million signing bonus and guarantees of $25.5 million.
It's possible that the Vikings paid Jennings more than they would have preferred. The $45 million deal also included incentives each year for all-pro honors that, if achieved, could drive the total worth to a reported $47.5 million.
On the other hand, it was about $2.5 million on average less than Minnesota probably would have had to pay Harvin.
Besides the draft choices, the Vikings replaced a dynamic 24-year-old slot receiver-returner with off-field concerns in Harvin for a more versatile and skilled veteran who is 4 1/2 years older in Jennings.
In Minnesota, Jennings heads a depth chart that includes Jarius Wright, Jerome Simpson, Stephen Burton and Greg Childs.
Jennings, whose expired deal in Green Bay averaged $9.2 million, was issued No. 15 by the Vikings.
In Jennings, one of four almost equal wide receivers, the Packers lost a gifted, valued performer but didn't drain their salary space.
The Packers might have dealt Jennings for a second-round pick before the Oct. 30 trading deadline but the abdominal injury probably ended that opportunity. A year from now, Jennings' departure will help Green Bay qualify for an attractive compensatory draft choice.