Packers, Elgton Jenkins Agree On Extension

The Packers will not let Elgton Jenkins hit free agency. They agreed to a four-year extension with the fourth-year offensive lineman, Ian Rapoport of tweets.

The versatile blocker agreed to bypass a run on the 2023 market by signing a $68MM deal that could max out at $74MM. While Jenkins has worked at both guard and tackle, he has settled in at guard this season. This deal makes him the league’s second-highest-paid guard — behind only Quenton Nelson. Incentives can take the deal to the $74MM mark, per the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Tom Silverstein (on Twitter).

Davante Adams notwithstanding, Green Bay has an extensive history of keeping its priority free agents. (Though, this deal does come around the same point on the calendar when the Packers locked down Adams to his second NFL contract back in 2017.) Months after Jaire Alexander‘s cornerback-record contract, the Packers have Jenkins locked in through the 2026 season. The former second-round pick will collect a $24MM signing bonus, Rapoport adds (on Twitter). ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler has the signing bonus at $22MM (Twitter link).

The Packers do not have too much history with the franchise tag, going 12 years between bringing it out for Ryan Pickett (in 2010) and Adams. But Rapoport notes a tag was likely here. Jenkins’ signing bonus comes in a few million north of the projected $18.3MM O-lineman tag, which undoubtedly came into play during the talks. Jenkins, 27 next week, would have been one of the top free agents on next year’s market. Instead, the Packers paid to make him a long-term cornerstone.

At $17MM per year, Jenkins’ extension checks in closer to the guard field than to Nelson, who is attached to a $20MM-per-year accord. But Nelson’s accomplishments are on another level compared to his age group. Like Alexander, the Packers did not appear to deviate from their preferred contract structure of not including guarantees beyond Year 1. If the signing bonus represents the full guarantee here, Jenkins will be tied to either the fifth- or seventh-highest figure among guards.

This agreement also punctuates Jenkins’ return from the ACL tear that cut his 2021 season short. Although the Packers’ 2022 season has fallen well shy of expectations, this deal rewards a player who has bounced to a few positions along the O-line. Jenkins has made a Pro Bowl at guard — in 2020 — but began last season filling in for David Bakhtiari at left tackle. After Bakhtiari made his long-awaited return to his blindside post this season, Jenkins began his contract year at right tackle. But the Packers kicked him back inside to guard. Despite the move, Friday’s extension compares favorably to most right tackles’ money. The AAV matches Taylor Moton‘s for the fifth-highest at right tackle.

Green Bay selected Jenkins 44th overall in 2019 and made him an instant starter. Stationed alongside Bakhtiari, the Mississippi State alum soon teamed with the All-Pro blindsider to form one of the league’s top inside-outside duos. After Bakhtiari’s career-altering ACL tear on New Year’s Eve 2020, it took until this season for he and Jenkins to play together again. By the time they did, Corey Linsley — whom the Packers let walk in 2021 — was in his second season with the Chargers. Letting Linsley leave freed up funds for Jenkins, who is four years younger.

Last season represented a missed opportunity, though the Packers still secured the No. 1 seed without either standout. Bakhtiari, who underwent three surgeries to address the knee injury, has bounced in and out of the lineup this season. He remains tied to the four-year, $92MM contract he inked during the 2020 campaign. While Bakhtiari has missed five games this season, Jenkins has only missed two. He returned in Week 2 and has played at a Pro Bowl level. No such honor came this week, but Pro Football Focus ranks Jenkins as the league’s No. 7 overall guard. The Packers are paying up for what should be his prime seasons.

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