Cullen Jenkins is still riding a high from the Green Bay Packers' Super Bowl triumph a few months back -- "I can't wait to get that ring on my finger so I can show it off," he declared Wednesday -- and he'd love the opportunity to help the team try to win again next season.
He doesn't see that happening.
The soon-to-be free-agent defensive end is resigned to moving on after seven years with the Packers, he said during an appearance on ESPN Milwaukee radio's "Green and Gold Thursday," especially after nothing came of his bid last summer to extend his contract, and at a discounted rate for the team.
"I've always been up there and always been a Packer, and I wanted to stay a Packer," Jenkins said. "So we approached the team and wanted to get some type of security, some type of longer-term deal before the season so I would know I would be there. It wasn't about money, it was about security, about trying to see if we could work something out."
Agreeing to less money "was the thought then," Jenkins said. "I knew in going to them, I know Green Bay, I know the market, I know how they handle business, and the thought was if we could get something reasonable worked out, I knew I would take less than what I could've gotten in free agency. But they never approached me with anything and never got any type of negotiations going. It's just how the business is. They had a lot of younger guys and felt they could move forward in that direction."
Jenkins, who turned 30 in January, has missed parts of two of the past three seasons because of injuries -- last year, he broke his hand during the opener at Philadelphia and missed five more games with a calf strain -- and now that his four-year, $16 million contract has expired, Green Bay is expected to turn the job over to 2010 second-round draft pick Mike Neal, who missed all but two games as a rookie because of a torn rotator cuff.
"Mike has the ability to take over the game," Jenkins said. "For him, it's just a matter of getting in there and continuing to be a student of the game and learn it and he'll take it over."
The Packers' depth at defensive end is questionable beyond that, especially with former starter Johnny Jolly's status uncertain following a second drug-related arrest in March. Green Bay took only one defensive lineman in last week's NFL draft, selecting Arizona State's Lawrence Guy in the seventh round. Perhaps Jenkins' time with the Packers isn't finished.
"The possibility is there, I guess," he said. "It's one of those things that I'm not really looking into. I'm just waiting for this lockout to be over with so I can figure out what options I'm going to have. ... With this dragging on so long, it's almost like you have to put it out of your mind and not think about it.
"It's one of those things that tests your patience. For most players, it's a matter of when they get to get back to work and when they get to start working out with their team. For me, I don't even know that. Heck, if the Packers were to decide to get together and start holding workouts together with the players, I don't even know if I would be included in that."
If he is going elsewhere, Jenkins said he'll cherish his time in Green Bay.
"Throughout my whole career, I've had a great time in Green Bay," he said. "The things that I've gotten to experience ... heck, I was given my opportunity in Green Bay. And although this whole thing with them not approaching me about a contract and things like that, that may not be the way I would have liked things to happen, you can't base your whole experience with Green Bay off of that.
"Green Bay is a first-class organization, it's a heck of a city to play in, it's a heck of a city to have your family in, and the experience has been a heck of an experience up there."
And the Packers, he says, are "a heck of a team. The talent level and the depth, especially on defense, they have a lot of big-time playmakers on it. It's a great defense. Green Bay definitely has an opportunity to compete, not just next year, but years down the road.
"And it would be nice to be a part of that."