Packers camp report: Grant's holdout is over
GREEN BAY -- As the words were coming out of Mike McCarthy's mouth, the deal was getting done.
Frustrated after a shoddy offensive practice, the Packers coach took the opportunity during his daily post-practice sideline gathering with reporters to put a little pressure on unsigned -- or so McCarthy thought -- running back Ryan Grant.
"He's not helping himself. I think everybody agrees with that," McCarthy said of Grant, who had missed the first six days and eight practices of camp. "The thing that concerns me about Ryan, he went about everything that he needed to do throughout the spring, he was very conscientious.
"I know (running backs coach) Edgar Bennett is in daily contact with him, but it's time for him to get to camp. He is still a young player. He doesn't have a high level of experience, and it's time for him to get here and be a part of what is going on. It's obviously a contract negotiation, but I would really like to see Ryan get here."
Ask, Mike, and you shall receive. Less than an hour later, Grant had agreed to a four-year deal that could pay him as much as $31 million if he reaches all the performance-based escalators the contract includes.
"I'm glad it's over. I'm glad I can get back to playing football," Grant said from his home in New Jersey. "There were ups and downs throughout the whole thing, but I tried to only focus on the things I had control of. I'm glad it's over with, I really am. I'm glad I can get back to doing what I do."
Grant said he will fly to Green Bay Sunday morning, in time to attend Sunday night's intrasquad scrimmage at Lambeau Field. The Packers don't practice Monday but practice at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, when Grant could make his training-camp debut after missing the first six days and eight practices of camp.
According to Grant's agent, Alan Herman, the deal will pay Grant $4.25 million this year, including $3 million in a guaranteed roster bonus Grant will receive up front, $750,000 in base salary and another $500,000 in weekly roster bonuses based on whether he's on the 45-man active game-day roster.
Herman said the deal is worth $8 million in the first two years, a substantial bump for Grant, an exclusive-rights free agent who would have only made $370,000 this season and would have had to wait another two years before reaching unrestricted free agency.
"I think it truly was a compromise," Herman said. "You always want to get more guarantees in a contract like this, but from Day 1 we recognized that we were in a vulnerable position with three more restricted years --two exclusive-rights, (plus) one restricted.
"There's a point where you have to be satistifed and recognize he's not an unrestricted free agent."
Grant would have made a maximum of $3 million over the next three years without a new deal.
"Ryan wasn't going to be greedy," Herman said. "He knew he had three more years where he knew he was stuck. Now, he's not stuck."
The Packers' initial offer was for a six-year deal that entailed only $2 million in 2008 pay and a $1.75 guaranteed signing bonus. Herman had asked for a $4 million signing bonus.
The deal includes performance-based incentives and escalators that kick in at the 1,000-, 1,250-, and 1,500-yard benchmarks and also includes Pro Bowl and other bonuses.
If Grant, who rushed for 956 yards last season in only seven starts -- before a Packers-record 201-yard effort against Seattle in the NFC divisional playoffs -- can produce the way he did last year, he will make significantly more money in the suceeding years of the deal.
"I expect to pick up where we left off. I want to be that dominant back," Grant said. "I feel good about the fact that I can earn my money if I perform. I don't play for the money, but I feel like, if I perform and do what I do, I'll be compensated for it."
Favre saga could end Monday: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Saturday that he intends to make a decision on Brett Favre's situation on Monday, which will force the Packers and the iconic quarterback to either come to an agreement on the long-term marketing and licensing contract the club offered Favre last week, or figure out where Favre will play in 2008.
"I think the discussions are moving ahead. I would hope we'll have something resolved by Monday," Goodell said in an interview on the NFL Network from Canton, Ohio, where the annual Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony was being held Saturday. "I think we have to force it. I think it's come to the point where there needs to be some decisions made on the behalf of the Packers, on behalf of Brett and on behalf of all the fans."
If the sides can reach an accord, Favre will sign the marketing deal and remain retired. If they cannot, Favre is expected to accept his reinstatement and travel to Green Bay on Monday. If Favre did report and a deal still isn't reached on the marketing contract, the Packers would then have to step up their efforts to trade Favre and begin more seriously exploring the possibility of trading him within the NFC North division, potentially to the Minnesota Vikings, the team sources say Favre wants to play for.
Citing a source close to Favre, ESPN reported Saturday evening that Favre has some "reservations" about accepting the Packers' financial settlement because it does not achieve his "objective" for coming out of retirement -- playing again.
Now, whether that's how Favre really feels or is merely a negotiating ploy to get the Packers to increase what was originally a 10-year, $20 million offer to $25 million -- the amount Favre's playing contract would have paid him in 2008 and '09 -- remains to be seen.
But a source familiar with the negotiations said Favre's agent, James "Bus" Cook, and the Packers remained relatively far apart on a final number. The source said the Packers had come up slightly from their original offer while Favre's side at one point floated a number significantly higher -- over $30 million.
A source that has been in regular contact with Favre said on Saturday that Favre's wife, Deanna, doesn't want him to accept the settlement.
Although Favre faxed his reinstatement papers to the league offices Monday and Goodell's approval was seen as a mere formality, Goodell has put off his ruling on the application to allow the sides to continue to negotiate the personal services contract.
"Primarly, it starts with, does Brett want to play football? (And) the second (question) is, do the Packers want him to play for the Packers?" Goodell said. "Those are the two principle points that have to be resolved and only the two parties can make those determinations. Not me."
If Favre signs the marketing deal, it would rule out the possibility of him coming to the rescue during the season if new starter Aaron Rodgers were to suffer an injury and rookie backups Brian Brohm and Matt Flynn weren't ready to take over.
According to the NFL's "stockpiling" rule, there is only a small window of time in which a player who has a non-playing contract with a team can still apply for reinstatement to active status. An NFL spokesman said that the rule states that any player on the reserve/retired list who was employed by a club off-the-field would not be eligible for the roster after the cut-down to 75 players.
That means Favre would have until the Aug. 26 deadline of 3 p.m. to come back with the Packers. It would not preclude him from playing for someone else, however.
Asked how he thought the situation might end, Goodell replied, "I don't know. I think they are being reasonable. There are difficult emotional issues and they're important to the future of both of them. Brett has a great legacy and the Packers have a great franchise that they're trying to move forward with. I think they're trying to balance that in a way that is responsible to each party."
U-G-L-Y, you ain't got no alibi: McCarthy was so bothered with how poorly the offense performed in practice Saturday that he made the entire unit stay after -- despite having practiced the longest (2 hours, 27 minutes) in camp on the hottest day of camp so far -- an extra 10 minutes to go through corrections.
There seemed to be an inordinate amount of running plays called during 11-on-11 periods, and starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers said that wasn't by accident.
"I'll tell you why: (McCarthy) got mad about the mental mistakes and he changed the plays and made us run the ball," Rodgers said. "We were just lackadaisical during the walkthrough and lackadaisical during practice."
Added wide receiver James Jones, who fumbled during one team session: "We had a bad day today. Very bad. Execution-wise, lots of dropped balls, lots of bad things. So we definitely needed to be put in check. It was bad. But bad days come every once in awhile. You have to just get better.
Say what? When center Scott Wells heard Saturday how McCarthy described his pulled back muscle -- a "trunk injury" -- Wells was a bit thrown.
"It's not like my butt or anything. Let's clear that up. It's my back," Wells said. "I don't have any junk in my trunk."
Wells pulled the muscle early in Friday night's practice and is unsure whether he'll play in the scrimmage.
No good deed goes unpunished: Defensive tackle Ryan Pickett still hasn't practiced because of a hamstring injury, and his frustration is multiplied because he hurt himself going above and beyond preparing for camp. Pickett stayed in town after the mandatory minicamp ended June 19 -- he normally goes home to Texas -- to work out with several other linemen when he pulled the hamstring while running.
"I was up here training, working out to get in shape for the season," Pickett said. "That's what's hard -- I did all these things right, to get ready for the season, and then boom, right before training camp, that happens."
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