Levens, Green pose salary-cap dilemma
Team might not keep both players Sunday, January 28, 2001
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Team might not keep both players

of the Journal Sentinel staff

Tampa, Fla. - If the Green Bay Packers are going to make it back to the Super Bowl, they figure they'll need both Ahman Green and Dorsey Levens to get there.

However, if they plan on signing Green to a deal that will guarantee he is around beyond next season, they may have to do without Levens.

Green's agent, Leigh Steinberg, said this week while attending Super Bowl XXXV that he was waiting to see what the Packers did with Levens before he would allow negotiations to proceed any further. Green would like to know that he would be the running back of the future before he signs anything long-term.

As a restricted free agent, Green can play this season for a standard tender offer, the value of which is dependent on how much the Packers want to protect against him leaving in free agency. The Packers would prefer to sign him to a long-term deal because it would lock him up for several seasons and would lower his salary cap number significantly.

"A lot of that is predicated on what they say his role is going to be," Steinberg said of Green's negotiations. "As long as they're still dealing with Dorsey Levens I don't think they're in any state to clarify that. I think we'll sort of wait until that plays out."

The Packers have shown a strong interest in bringing back Levens at a much lower salary next season and have had continuing discussions with his agent. The Packers want Levens, whose salary cap number is $7.4 million, to take a significant pay cut.

Levens would prefer to re-negotiate the final two years of his contract and have the Packers include a signing bonus with the deal. If the two sides can't come to an agreement by the start of free agency March 2, Levens will be released.

Green wants to be assured that he will be the starter beyond next season. If Levens proves his injuries last season were a fluke, he would take significant playing time from Green, who started 10 games in Levens' absence last year and rushed for 1,175 yards and 10 touchdowns.

"Basically, Ahman is just a happy camper," Steinberg said. "He had a great year. If you actually take his stats and take them out over 16 games, he probably would have made the Pro Bowl.

"If it's a tender number, it's a lot more money than he's ever made. If they want to do something long-term, that's fine. But it should be something recognizing what he's going to be over time."

The Packers will probably offer Green a first-round tender, which will cost them roughly $1.2 million and will guarantee that they will receive a first-round pick if they chose not to match an offer Green receives from another team. The first-round compensation would all but ensure that Green won't get an offer.

The Packers could take a chance and offer Green the right-of-first-refusal tender, which would cost them a little under $400,000. Because Green was originally drafted in the second round, compensation would be a second-rounder.

"I think they will (go with the first)," Steinberg said. "We're real relaxed about it. The good news is he found a home. The resolution is going to be a happy one. We've just started bouncing concepts around."

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