CHICAGO IL - JANUARY 23: Cullen Jenkins #77 of the Green Bay Packers reacts after a sack of quarterback Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears in the first half in the NFC Championship Game at Soldier Field on January 23 2011 in Chicago Illinois. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Tom Silverstein has a great article with a lot of honest quotes from soon to be former Green Bay Packers DE Cullen Jenkins. He said that his agent approached the Packers about an extension last off-season and "we haven't heard anything." And they don't plan on using the franchise tag either. GM Ted Thompson said "we chose not to use it this time." Jenkins said "it's time for me and my family to look at options somewhere else."
I'm really surprised they've decided to let him go. Especially without trying to tag and trade him. They really can't afford to keep him, in addition to NT B.J. Raji and DE Ryan Pickett. That is an expensive trio, especially once Jenkins signs his new contract. It makes me second guess the four-year extension they gave to Pickett last season. I'd have said something about spending too much on the defensive line if they'd kept Jenkins, but teams don't usually let a player as good as him go.
I'd always considered DE Michael Neal as an insurance policy in case Jenkins left. But apparently he was specifically drafted as his replacement. However, he rarely played on the weak side in place of him. I only recall him on the strong side, as a replacement for Pickett. Even DE C.J. Wilson usually played on the strong side. And that was the side that DE Johnny Jolly played on in 2009 too.
It was a combination of DT Howard Green and DE Jarius Wynn that filled when Jenkins was injured. I wouldn't expect them to remain ahead of Neal, Wilson, and Jolly in 2011. There should be some shuffling on the defensive line next season.