GREEN BAY – Christmas is Sunday, Elgton Jenkins' 27th birthday is Monday, and the Packers' Pro Bowl offensive lineman doesn't need any more presents as of Friday.
Jenkins signed a long-term contract extension with the Packers right before Friday's practice, the culmination of a year-long process of returning to top form from last November's season-ending knee injury.
"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," said Jenkins, who was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in March. "So I felt like something was going to get done. The time just had to be right."
Reconstructive surgery kept Jenkins rehabbing throughout the offseason and most of training camp, and he wasn't able to return to the lineup until Week 2 this year. At that point, the Packers needed the fourth-year pro to play right tackle, and in five starts there he battled through several ups and downs.
Since resuming the starting role at his more customary left guard spot in Week 7, though, Jenkins has gotten back to feeling like his normal self, and the Packers' commitment to him with the lucrative new contract shows they have no concerns about his health moving forward.
"This time last year, I was in a dark place," admitted Jenkins, who tore his ACL on Nov. 21 last season at Minnesota. "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."
Originally drafted in the second round in 2019 (No. 44 overall) out of Mississippi State, Jenkins has proven to be invaluable as the Packers' most versatile offensive lineman in recent memory.
Including playoffs, he's started 54 games, with 37 of them coming at left guard. He's also started eight games at left tackle, six at right tackle and three at center, his primary college position.
Jenkins was named to the PFWA All-Rookie Team in 2019, earned Pro Bowl honors in 2020, and was named a first alternate this season. While he seems to have settled back in at left guard, he wasn't ruling out moving to another spot in the future, and Head Coach Matt LaFleur has no doubts, now that he's fully healthy, he could succeed wherever he's asked to line up.
"I don't think there's a position up front he can't play," said LaFleur, who had Jenkins break down the post-practice huddle Friday as the Packers finished on-field preparations for the weekend trip to Miami.
"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. He's been just awesome since the day he set foot in this building and just brings so much to our team."
Jenkins said negotiations got going a few weeks ago but he was just letting his representatives handle it while he focused on football. Entering free agency was always an option, but getting franchise-tagged by the Packers remained a possibility as well.
Now, none of that is lingering, as it worked out for both sides. Jenkins called his mom to let her know the good news when he'd agreed to the terms of the new deal, and she's on her way to visit him.
"She was just saying she was proud of everything I've accomplished in that time," Jenkins said. "This is a proud moment for my family."