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 if the Packers had agreed to pay $9 instead of $8 million to Jennings, and $800,000 instead of $700,000 to Crabtree, they could have had both players back?
The offers to both players were probably not arbitrary. The Packers certainly know where they want to be in regards to the salary cap, and they're probably thinking about extensions that will come up over the next couple years. So good for them; they've maintained discipline in the face of two budget busting extensions.
Or did they just not realize the market for their players? Why not come up in price for two guys you wanted back and underbid for? Here's a GM Ted Thompson quote via Kevin Seifert:
"Free agency is a difficult thing to predict. It didn't work out."I think the team will be just fine next season without both players. Jennings is aging and the Vikings are taking some risk by giving him a big contract at this point in his career. Crabtree is great to the fans, but he's just another guy. TE Ryan Taylor is probably as good as Crabtree and he's already on the roster.
But it's troubling that GM Ted Thompson has seemed to have blown it in free agency. He wanted Jennings and Crabtree back and he put competitive offers on the table, but misjudged the market and lost them both.
When the Packers let players like DE Aaron Kampman, DE Cullen Jenkins, and LG Daryn Colledge, that seemed to be an internal decision. Kampman was coming off a major injury. Jenkins and Colledge were going to be overpaid, as far as they were concerned. They didn't make a big effort to re-sign them. Since then, they've tried to re-sign C Scott Wells last year and underbid. Now they've done the same with Jennings and Crabtree. Maybe it's for the best; Wells's first year with the Rams was plagued with injuries. Maybe Plan B will work out fine, though C Jeff Saturday wasn't a success last season. They seem to know what to do, but can't get it done, and that's left me concerned going forward.