By STEVE MEGARGEE
AP Sports Writer
Green Bay’s Elgton Jenkins has signed a contract extension that assures the Packers won’t lose one of the NFL’s most versatile offensive linemen to free agency.
The Packers announced the deal Friday. Terms weren’t disclosed, but a person familiar with the situation says Jenkins received a four-year extension with a base value of $68 million that could go up to $74 million. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal hadn’t been announced at the time.
“The team always told me – the coaches and the people upstairs – how much they liked me and how much they wanted me to be here, and I wanted to be here as well,” Jenkins told reporters after the Packers’ Friday afternoon practice. “So I felt like something was going to get done. The time just had to be right.”
NFL Network and ESPN first reported the extension. Jenkins’ contract had been set to expire at the end of the season.
“It’s a great day for us, a great day for Elgton,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said. “Obviously he’s earned it and he does it the right way. It’s always fun as a coach to see guys that get rewarded for not only their performance but what they do in the locker room and the leadership he brings. I can’t say enough great things about him.”
Jenkins, who turns 27 on Monday, has played his entire career with Green Bay. The Packers selected him out of Mississippi State in the second round of the 2019 draft.
The 2020 Pro Bowl selection has started multiple games at every position on the line other than right guard. LaFleur said Friday that “I don’t think there’s a position up front he can’t play.”
“Since the moment he walked into the building, Elgton has been a core member of this franchise while displaying an uncommon versatility, unselfishness and toughness,” Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst said in a statement. “He’s a tremendous leader and teammate, and he has earned everything that has come to him.”
Jenkins primarily plays left guard, but he took over at left tackle for eight games last season to fill in for the injured David Bakhtiari. Jenkins played only those eight games last season before a torn anterior cruciate ligament knocked him out for the remainder of the year.
“This time last year, I was in a dark place,” Jenkins said. “Just coming off three seasons of playing good, playing well and then you hurt yourself in your third season. I could say I was in a dark place, but I just had to work, work, work my way through this.”
The knee injury caused Jenkins to miss the Packers’ opening game this season, but he has started all 12 games in which he has played.
Jenkins started at right tackle for his first five games this season and has played left guard in his seven games. He missed a game on Oct. 30 against Buffalo with a foot injury.
“It obviously took him a little bit to get going I would say this year, which is to be expected, but he’s gotten better and better and better,” LaFleur said. “I think you’ve seen that as of late. Each and every week, he seems to get a little bit better.”
Jenkins has 33 career starts at left guard, eight at left tackle, six at right tackle and three at center. His performance on the line helped the Packers win three straight NFC North titles from 2019-21.
The Packers (6-8) are seeking their third consecutive victory Sunday at Miami (8-6). The Packers probably will need to win their final three games and get plenty of help to earn a fourth straight playoff appearance.
NOTES: The Packers have listed Bakhtiari as doubtful for Sunday’s game as he continues to recover from an appendectomy that has caused him to miss Green Bay’s last two games. Bakhtiari hasn’t practiced all week. … S Rudy Ford (wrist/knee) and CB/KR Keisean Nixon (groin) practiced fully Friday after being limited practice participants earlier in the week.
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