GREEN BAY – Greg Jennings stood quietly at his locker, painstakingly peeling away the tape from the photos of his family – daughters Amya, Alea, and Ayva, son Aice and wife Nicole – that covered the sides of his locker. The soon-to-be unrestricted free agent carefully moved everything from his locker into a black garbage bag, unsure of whether he would be back in this room again.
But despite that uncertainty, Jennings wasn’t really interested in addressing his future with the Green Bay Packers.
“(I) just came off a tough loss,” Jennings said, referring to Saturday night’s 45-31 NFC Divisional Playoff loss at San Francisco, a game that had ended only 14 or so hours earlier. “Just looking into the future, for right now I'm going to do what I need to do today and move forward day-to-day.
“I'm going to play football. I'm going to train hard this off-season and be prepared to play football next year. That's all I can control and that's what I'll do. That's what I'm best at. And I'm excited for that.”
And while Jennings certainly didn’t rule out a return to the Packers, he admitted that the decision can’t just be about wanting to stay in Green Bay, because the National Football League is still a business.
“Absolutely,” Jennings said. “But at the end of the day, you know the Packers are going to do what's best for the Packers. And that's not going to change whether you're No. 4 (Brett Favre), No. 80 (Donald Driver), No. 85 (Jennings), No. 77 (Cullen Jenkins). That's going to be the case. They're going to do what's best for the Packers and the organization. And as the other half of the businessman sitting down at that table, I have to do what's best for myself and my family.”
The most telling sign from Jennings came when he was asked about what the hardest part would be of leaving the locker room on Sunday, knowing that he may never play for the Packers again. The wide receiver didn’t seem too concerned about what his future would bring.
“What would be the most difficult part?” Jennings asked. “I don't know if there's a difficult part. Like I said, I'm excited for the future. Football is going to be football. I'm excited for that.”
Jennings, of course, is not the only longtime Packer offensive player who may not be back next season. Donald Driver, the team’s all-time leading receiver, is also an unrestricted free agent after accepting a pay cut to return last offseason after his Dancing with the Stars title, and although tight end Jermichael Finley has one more year left in the two-year, $14 million contract he signed last February, the Packers may choose to part ways with him to avoid his $8 million salary-cap number.
Driver, who said he has not made a decision yet regarding his future in football, said there is no doubt in his mind that he can still play and be a valuable asset to an NFL team.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” said Driver, who was active for Saturday night’s loss but only played on special teams. “I feel like I can still play. I think I’ve proven that. I think I’m just going to see what’s out there for me and if teams call and want me to come then I’ve got to make that decision. If not, if the Packers want me back, then I’ll come back. So at this point it may not work here, but it may work somewhere else.”
The wide receiver signed a re-structured deal with the Packers in May, but had trouble finding playing time – even when Jennings and wide receiver Jordy Nelson missed time due to injury – and had by far his worst season statistically since the 2000 season. Driver ended the 2012 campaign with eight catches for 77 yards, and two touchdowns. Still, after finishing his 14th season with the Packers, Driver said he was happy with the way he was able to handle the disappointment.
“It was very difficult,” Driver said. “It was tough and frustrating all at the same time but I think the thing for me is that I was able handle it in a certain way. I think you can take the negative out of it or the positive. I decided to take the high road and take the positive side of it, and it’s not what you want but that’s the way the business is, and you have to deal with it.”
Finley, who said his improved play over the last six weeks was because he was “determined to prove people wrong,” also said he hopes to play in Green Bay forever, and that as far as he knows, he will be a Packer next season.
Wide receiver James Jones, who has played with all three of them since 2008, admitted that it crossed his mind earlier in the year that this could be the last year the receiver group would be intact.
“It sunk into me halfway during the season,” Jones said. “We all understand that it’s a business, and we all understand that everybody in this locker room is trying to win Super Bowls but everybody in this locker room is trying to take care of their family as well.
“Football is our job and football is how we do it, and we understand that we’ve got four or five No. 1 receivers that are going to want money at some time. So we know it’s going to be hard for this organization to pay everybody what they want, which sucks, it’s part of the business, because I wish we could stay together for the rest of our career and go on a run and win some Super Bowls, but things happen.”
Sarah Barshop covers the Packers for ESPNWisconsin.com. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/sarahbarshop.