NFC North: Antoine Bethea
March, 12, 2014
By Rob Demovsky | ESPN.com
We don't know who it will be, but we know it won't be M.D. Jennings.
After starting every game for the Packers last season, Jennings wasn't even offered a restricted free-agent tender before Tuesday's deadline. On Wednesday, he signed a one-year contract with the Chicago Bears.
Given how ineffective Jennings was last season, the decision not to tender him was expected. Although Jennings was a full-time starter last season, the Packers tried to replace him at various points, using Chris Banjo early in the season and Sean Richardson late in the year.
Jennings was part of a safety group that failed to come up with a single interception last season. The Packers were the only team in the NFL that did not get an interception from one of their safeties in 2013.
Jennings, who entered the league as an undrafted free agent from Arkansas State, will be best remembered for being on the wrong end of the Fail Mary play against the Seattle Seahawks in 2012. Jennings thought he intercepted a pass that instead was ruled the game-winning touchdown by Golden Tate.
The Packers were not involved in any of the first wave of safeties to sign shortly after free agency opened Tuesday. Six safeties -- Donte Whitner, T.J. Ward, Antoine Bethea, Malcolm Jenkins, Jairus Byrd and Mike Mitchell -- all signed significant contracts within the first 24 hours of free agency with Byrd's deal (six years, $64 million with the New Orleans Saints) topping the market.
Last month at the scouting combine, Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Micah Hyde likely will play some at safety this season, but it's unclear if the second-year defensive back will make a full-time transition from cornerback.
Jennings might not be the only Packers player on the Bears’ radar. According to the Chicago Tribune, they have interest in Packers outside linebacker/defensive end Mike Neal, who is an unrestricted free agent.
Also on Wednesday, the Packers set up their first free-agent visit. Former Houston Texans tight end Owen Daniels will meet with the Packers. Daniels, who played at the University of Wisconsin, was released by the Texans last week in a cost-cutting move. Daniels missed all but five games last season because of a broken leg.
The Packers are in the market for a tight end because they could lose both Jermichael Finley (who is visiting the Seahawks) and free agent Andrew Quarless.