Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Every week I will be taking a sneak peak into some of the more realistic options hitting the free agency market this offseason. These will be high impact players that should come in and fill some much-needed holes on the current Dolphins roster.
With the NFL Scouting Combine in full swing, let's take a break and have a look at one of the Dolphins main free agent targets. For most of us, the guy needs no introduction. At twenty-nine years of age, the Green Bay Packers star has lit up the NFL since coming into the league as a second round pick from Western Michigan University. In seven years and ninety-six games in the NFL, the veteran has accumulated an impressive 6,537 receiving yards and 53 touchdowns. What's more, the guy has a super bowl ring and made the Pro Bowl in two consecutive seasons (2010,2011). That's right, his name is Greg Jennings.
Greg Jennings is everything that Joe Philbin wants from his players: a model citizen. By all accounts, he's been a great locker room presence and has reportedly been a big influence on Green Bay's younger receivers like Randall Cobbs, taking the time to teach them the nuances of the game. Jennings is also familiar with Philbin, having worked under him during his days as offensive coordinator of the Packers. Like it or not, NFL coaches sometimes prefer familiarity over the unknown. In other words, they know exactly what they will get from the player.
On the field, Jennings isn't the fastest player in the world. But that doesn't matter, because his complete route tree enables him to consistently gain separation from defenders. He's also an extremely versatile player, lining up virtually anywhere in order to create mismatches. You won't hear fans screaming at their television sets over dropped catches, either. Jennings has some of the best hands in the NFL to make even the toughest of catches. But what is often overlooked, and what should excite Dolphins fans the most, is his big-play ability. Since 2007, he has made the most catches (thirty to be precise) of forty yards or more in the entire league. Yes, you heard it. That's more than Mike Wallace. And of his fifty-three scoring touchdowns, eighteen of them have been for forty yards or more. Hmmm, where do I sign?
Like many upcoming free agents, there is a buyer beware tag. It's hard to ignore his injury history. In week one of the 2012 NFL regular season, Jennings tore his lower rectus abdominis muscle, missing eight games. Despite this, he still found the end zone four times. However, in 2011, Jennings also missed the final three games of the season with a knee injury. Miami need to do their homework on his medical history.
Perhaps more worryingly, though, has been Jennings' reported contract demands. Word on the street (well actually the combine) on Friday pointed to the fact that Jennings wants a contract worth an astonishing $14 million a year. Look at this whichever way you want to, but personally, I'm not convinced he is expecting that much money.
What he says
"Joe, how you doing. Remember me?"
What they say
"Greg's a dynamic player....I mean, he's been to the Pro Bowl, he has an excellent working relationship with Aaron Rodgers, they're on the same page. Greg's one of those receivers that's extremely athletic, his body language is very easy to readjust to and Aaron has great confidence to throw to with anticipation. They have a lot of history together, a lot of production, it'd be great to have him back."
Overall, Dolphins fans should be paying close attention to Greg Jennings this offseason. He is perhaps the neatest fit into Miami's west coast offense than any other player hitting the free agent market next month. Sure, he has had his fair share of injury problems. But nevertheless, Greg Jennings has been one of the most consistent and lethal receivers in recent years. If we see him in a Dolphins uniform next year, I won't be disappointed. Will you?