With the lockout over and Free Agency staring us in the face, it's time to direct our attention toward the Packers pursuit of a repeat. XLV is ours. Forever. Now, it's time to play for the present. XLVI. The 3-peat is the mission. But, first, we need XLVI. It's expected that Ted Thompson won't be a player as far as acquiring another teams talent. And, unless there are significant concessions from his current stable of UFA's, it's unlikely that he'll make much of a play on the likes of Cullen Jenkins, Daryn Colledge, B-Jack, Ras-A-tari and James Jones - even though each has made significant contributions over the last 4 years. During that time, the Packers have made it to 2 NFC Championship games, and of course, the Green & Gold captured the XLV crown. Considering these successes, how can anyone judge Ted Thompson in a negative light?
Ras-A-tari was huge in '07. He was a physical presence that brought intimidation to the secondary. He's been injured ever since. Jones has been a solid WR since his arrival in '07. B-Jack has been a dependable 3rd down back with the exception of the one play in the 2nd Quarter of the '07 Championship Game. If you watched the game, you remember the play. Colledge will be tough to replace. I won't be shocked if Thompson makes an offer, but he's going to receive compensation that the Packers won't be able to match. And, then, there's Cullen Jenkins.
Dear Cullen Jenkins,
It seems our time together is over. Sadly. I'm going to miss you. Since your arrival in '04, you've been a feisty competitor. A beast. Consistently, you won your one-on-one battles. You've solidified the point of attack and made it difficult for teams to run against us. During your 8 years with the Packers, you manned multiple positions. Starting as a DT in the 4-3, you were an underrated, often under-appreciated pass rusher.
In '04, on 3rd down of the Eagles opening series in the game where Favre's TD streak was snapped, I recall you bursting through the line and throwing McNabb to the turf. With excitement, the Packers were off the field! My cousin, Ryan, and I screamed thru telephone lines into each others ears. I was in Miami Beach. He was in Green Bay. For a moment, due to your efforts, it felt like we were sitting on the couch together!
In '05, you developed into a legitimate 4 down player. Playing in 16 games, notching 3 sacks and totaling 37 tackles, Cullen Jenkins was becoming a constant on the Packers DL.
Then, in '06, the NFL world was introduced to Cullen Jenkins. The average NFL fan started to learn what die-hard Green & Gold fans already knew: Cullen Jenkins was a blossoming NFL talent. At 4-8, the Packers season was over. Sure, we were in the developmental stages under a new organizational regime, but, man, this team was searching for answers. One decision was to move you to RDE in place of future Packer HOF'er and master sack artist, KGB. In chronological order, it was arguably the 4th controversial decision that the Ted Thompson led Green Bay Packers had to make since taking the reigns of the most unique American sports franchise. To reflect, first Ted Thompson drafted Aaron Rodgers as the eventual replacement to #4. Then, Ted Thompson selected Mike McCarthy over Sean Payton when the Packers gig was Payton's desired choice. Payton had a successful track record. McCarthy was a virtual unknown who had recently preferred Alex Smith to Aaron Rodgers. Third, Thompson traded away Javon Walker, who at the team appeared to be a budding superstar. This acquired pick was once again traded. Eventually, via that trade, Thompson selected Greg Jennings. The 4th controversial decision was moving Jenkins into the starting rotation over KGB. While this decision wasn't necessarily Thompson's, it was done under his watchful eye and it also reaped immediate rewards. Flourishing in your new role, you rebelled your way to 3.5 sacks in 4 games. The Packers were suddenly a forceful defense. Rummaging thru all 3 divisional foes along with a convincing victory in SF. The Packers swept thru December and had significant momentum entering the '07 season. Cullen, you earned your new contract!
In '07, with the rotation of yourself, AK-74, KGB, Corey Williams and Ryan Pickett, suddenly, the Packers had a dynamite front 4. Cullen, you had your best year with regards to combined tackles with 44. Defensively, we had a pension for creating the big play. It was initiated by the domination on the DL.
In '08, you were off to a Pro Bowl start to the season. You were a menace to opposing OL's, Cullen. At 2-1, the team was off to a good start. I was at the fateful game in Tampa when your season was cut short. Vividly, I remember the play. You bullied your way thru the line on 3rd down. You had Griese in your grasp...and after that play, for the rest of the '08 season, the Packers defense was not the same. We lacked confidence. You swagger was missed. So was your attitude. Consistently, the Packers lost close games and could not get a key defensive stop.
In '09, once again, Cullen, you were asked to change roles as the Packers moved to a 3-4. Being the solid teammate you are, you did so with only minimal complaint. With a vengeance, you returned from injury. 16 games played. 4.5 sacks. 32 tackles.
I'd argue 2010 was your best year. Playing in only 11 games, you fought your way to 7 sacks. Working with an injury and an uncertain future with the Packers, you were the consummate professional. Again, you were asked to play a variety of different roles along the defensive front. Again, you excelled. It was culminated with a BLING, BLING RING and an XLV Season. Pop Tarts, Cullen! Pop Tarts!
Cullen, if this is good-bye, I want to say thanks. In my mind, you'll always be a Green Bay Packer. You'll always be the beast who made life difficult for the opposition. You'll be remembered as a team player with a win first attitude. I won't blame you if you sign with another team. Just don't make it the Lions, Bears or the Viqueens.
But, Cullen, before I let you go...I want to say one last thing: Imagine this scenario. You take a significant discount. You'll still make millions. You stay with the Pack. You sign for 4-5 more years. Basically, a lifetime contract. You continue to play at your current level. The Packers win another Super Bowl or two. You retire as a Packer. And as a millionaire. Oh, and at that moment, you'd also join your former DL mates KGB & AK-74 as those retiring as more than worthy members of the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame! To me, there would not be a price on that honor. I realize that there are two sides to every negotiation and I am not a fly on the wall at 1265, but what if you came to the mystical place referred to as Lambeau Field with a take-it or leave-it offer?
Jerry Garcia made these words famous: "I Know You Rider gonna miss me when I'm gone." Cullen, if you leave, you'll be missed. Wholeheartedly, I hope these lyrics don't apply to you.
Go Pack Go!