Packers are eager to lock up Green
Agent says running back is happy playing in Green Bay Tuesday, January 16, 2001
Green Bay Press Gazette

Agent says running back is happy playing in Green Bay

By Pete Dougherty

Ahman Green's breakout season at halfback has prompted the Green Bay Packers to pursue a long-term deal with the restricted free agent.

Green started 12 games for injured Dorsey Levens last season and rushed for 1,175 yards, including the most yards ever --769-- for a Packers player in the final eight games of a season.

Green will be a restricted free agent in March, and it's a given he'll be back with the Packers next season. They plan on offering him a first-round tender, which will ensure a one-year salary of a little more than $1 million and give the Packers the right to match any contract he signs with another team.

But considering Green's big season and Levens' uncertain return because of salary-cap concerns, the Packers and Green's agent will begin substantive contract talks in the next two weeks on a long-term deal, agent Leigh Steinberg said.

"Ahman feels like he's found a home, and he really enjoys it there," Steinberg said. "One way or another he's going to be there (in 2001), and it's really the Packers' choice (on whether it's for one year or longer)."

The Packers are trying to negotiate a pay cut for Levens, whose base salary and roster bonus due in March total $6 million this year. If the sides can't reach an agreement, the Packers will have to cut him for a $4.5 million savings on their 2001 cap. That would leave Green as their primary halfback.

Though Green had fumbling problems much of last season -- he had six fumbles -- the Packers were happy with his development as the year went on. He not only averaged 4.5 yards a carry and scored 10 rushing touchdowns, but he also led the team in receptions with 73, and after dropping several key passes in the middle of the season, was more sure-handed down the stretch.

Coach Mike Sherman has said on several occasions he especially likes Green's youth. Though Green has played three seasons in the NFL, he turns only 24 in February. He entered the NFL in 1998 after his junior season at Nebraska.

Steinberg gave no hints on how much money it will take for the Packers to sign Green to a long-term deal. But he emphasized that Green is happy in Green Bay and suggested some flexibility in negotiations.

"Ahman's not going anywhere," Steinberg said. "We're very comfortable with whatever (happens). His was a very happy season."

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