Mike Woods column: Green's deal should be priority, if price is right
Saturday, December 9, 2006
If you were Ted Thompson — and, yes, we understand there probably aren't any takers at the present time — what would you do when it comes to Ahman Green?
Granted, amid a season that started slow, then showed promise, but now is circling the drain, the Packers' general manager has more pressing concerns that are keeping him up at night.
But before you know it, the season will be over and Green — who's operating on a one-year deal — will be eligible to hit the free-agent market. A Packers team with precious few playmakers may lose one who fits into that category.
It seems that should be a high priority, but since Green acknowledged the two sides began contract talks in mid-November, all has been quiet.
On the plus side, Green has made a remarkable comeback from a ruptured quadriceps tendon that limited him to five games last season.
Despite missing two games this season with a skittish hamstring, he's:
Put together five 100-yard games.
Is averaging a solid 4.3 yards a carry.
Must average only 52.5 yards over his final four games to top 1,000 yards.
Has fumbled just three times, losing two.
He's done this behind an offensive line that has undergone understandable growing pains while learning coach Mike McCarthy's zone-blocking system and often has featured three rookie starters.
That Green was able to return following such a serious injury is significant.
That he has been able to perform at the level he has is extraordinary.
Perhaps above it all has been Green's attitude. Unlike teammate Al Harris, or former teammates Mike McKenzie and Javon Walker, he never has made his contract an issue. He easily could have been a disruptive force, and would have had a lot of public sentiment on his side, following his fabulous 2003 season.
Yet, he chose not to.
Rather, he simply has carried on and performed his job like a true professional. A star player who just does his job and plays, and plays well.
Why wouldn't you want to keep this guy around?
Well, there's this:
He'll be 30 on Feb. 16.
He'll be entering his 10th season in 2007.
You can't help but wonder when his take-no-prisoners running style is going to start to take effect.
Much like a lawnmower has only so many hours in its life, a running back can absorb only so many hits.
Green never has shied away from contact.
Then there's the notion that you can plug just about anyone into a well-oiled zone-blocking system and watch them go. The Denver Broncos have been proof of that — save our beloved Ron Dayne, though perhaps he was just an aberration.
The questions we don't know?
What Green believes he's worth vs. what the Packers believe.
How many years Green is looking for on his next deal vs. what the Packers are willing to commit to.
Considering Thompson grossly overpaid free agent Charles Woodson last year with about $10.5 million in first-year salary and bonuses, we don't know what kind of up-front money Green is seeking. Considering his contributions to this organization and considering his solid track record as a team-first guy, it's probably going to be — and should be — a lot more.
But considering all the other holes that need fixing, can the Packers afford to make a significant commitment to player whose best days may be behind him?
Then again, the way Green takes care of his body, who's to say there aren't a few more excellent years ahead?
The answers will come in the weeks ahead. It always takes two to tango when it comes to a deal, and you want to remove emotions from the equation when it comes to your players. Otherwise, you'll end up like Mike Sherman.
It's clear to me Green is worth keeping around. As long — as Bob Barker would say — the price is right.
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