Packers versatile guard Elgton Jenkins gets 4-year contract extension
GREEN BAY – A year ago, staring down the bottom of a steep climb from his torn ACL, Elgton Jenkins’ mind could wander.
The five-tool offensive lineman for the Green Bay Packers knew he would play again. Nothing kept him from the field. He just didn’t know what he would look like. Jenkins was once on top of the NFL world, a Pro Bowler in his second NFL season, a guard who started at left tackle for eight games last year.
His future was limitless.
Then his left knee buckled on the grass at US Bank Stadium in Minnesota. As the weeks passed after reconstructive surgery, the uncertainty could be overwhelming.
“Around this time last year,” Jenkins said, “I was in a dark place. You just came off three seasons playing well, playing well, and then you got hurt in your third season. So he could tell he was in a dark place, but he just had to work. That’s what I told myself. I just have to work, work, work to get through this.
“I knew it was going to come back, but I didn’t know to what extent and how good it was going to be when it came back. So I knew they were going to pay me, but I didn’t know how much.”
Jenkins got his answer Thursday night. After a month of negotiations, the Packers have agreed to a four-year, $64 million contract extension with their former second-round pick, a source told PackersNews. The deal includes a $24 million signing bonus and $6 million in incentives, making it worth a total of $74 million.
Elgton Jenkins’ contract extension makes him the second-highest-paid guard in the NFL
Payday was a memorable Christmas and birthday weekend for Jenkins, who turns 27 on Monday.
“I said, ‘I can’t wait to see our presents. You got a nice little Christmas bonus,'” LaFleur said with a smile. “It’s a big day for us, a big day for Elgton. He’s obviously earned it and he does it the right way. It’s always fun as a manager to see guys who are rewarded not just for their performance, but for what they do.” in that locker room, and the leadership that he brings. I can’t say enough great things about him. He has been incredible since the day he stepped foot in this building, and he brings so much to our team.
“Just very, very, very excited, and that’s a nice little Christmas present for all of us.”
At $17 million annually, Jenkins’ salary is the second-highest among NFL guards, behind Indianapolis All-Pro Quenton Nelson ($20 million annually). He also tied Denver’s Garett Bolles for the eighth-highest-paid left tackle in the NFL.
Jenkins’ versatility valued in Packers’ offensive line
It’s fitting that Jenkins is compared in both stacks of offensive linemen because versatility has been the biggest strength in his game. Ever since the Packers drafted Jenkins with the 44th overall pick in 2019, he’s been something of a unicorn among linemen, the rare blocker who can line up anywhere on the offensive line.
A college center at Mississippi State, Jenkins was a Pro Bowl left guard in just his second NFL season. His work at left tackle could be more impressive. Jenkins filled in at left tackle when David Bakhtiari recovered from his torn ACL last season before his own ACL tear.
Jenkins said his versatility was part of the reason general manager Brian Gutekunst expressed his desire to re-sign him. LaFleur anticipated that he will continue to move Jenkins where he is needed along the offensive line.
“It’s where we need it,” LaFleur said. “I think he can play anything. I really do. I think he’s shown the ability to play tackle, I think he’s a great center, he’s obviously a guard. I think he can play anything.”
LaFleur declined to indicate which position would fit Jenkins best, even after his big payday. It may not be a coincidence that Jenkins’ game has improved after returning to left guard in Week 7.
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It took some time, but Jenkins found his footing after coming back from an ACL tear
Jenkins had about as difficult a return to the field as a lineman can have after tearing his ACL. His return was remarkably quick, practicing for the first time at camp on August 14, less than nine months after surgery. The Packers kept him inactive for his first game in Minnesota, not wanting to expose his knee to the same turf that tore it in his first game back. When Jenkins started his first game a week later against Chicago, he was at right tackle.
Even if Jenkins hadn’t been playing due to his extended absence, the transition could have been difficult. He had rarely played right tackle in his career before starting the first five games there this season. His game was unusually sloppy at first, especially by his standards. Jenkins allowed two sacks against the Bears, more than he had allowed his entire rookie season, and he looked bad.
“My technique was horrible,” he said after the game.
Jenkins said it took time for him to adjust after missing camp replays at an unknown position.
“When I went back to guard position,” Jenkins said, “I could feel my technique, it felt better than the tackle. Because, no excuses, but I didn’t play right tackle before I came back. So when I went back to being a guard, I said, ‘Okay, let me wear myself out on this again,’ and I knew it would be good.”
LaFleur said he was able to see the return of Jenkins’ “swagger” a few weeks ago, first during practice, then in games. In his prime, he’s an elite lineman equally suited to pass protection and run blocking. The Packers are confident that Jenkins has many good years ahead of him.
That’s why, when the banter died down, LaFleur acknowledged that Jenkins’ extension is a gift to the Packers. With him on the field, LaFleur has the luxury of moving a Pro Bowl-caliber lineman around multiple spots, giving him flexibility to craft the rest of his lineup.
“He’s just done so many great things,” LaFleur said, “and it’s great to see somebody as well, fighting through adversity, going through the knee injury. Obviously, it took him a little bit to get going this year, which is the age of wait. But it’s gotten better and better and I think you’ve seen it lately. Every week, it seems to get a little bit better.”