Green Will Probably Test The Market
Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Green Bay Packers have a little more than a week to get running back Ahman Green signed if they want to prevent him from becoming an unrestricted free agent.

At this point, Green seems interested in testing the market to see how much he's really worth even though his preference appears to be to remain with the Packers. To keep predators away from their leading rusher, the Packers are going to have to find common ground with him fairly soon.

One option that isn't in the cards is the use of a franchise or transition tag to keep Green off the market. It would cost the Packers a one-year offer of $6.9 million to use the franchise designation and $5.9 million to use the transition.

Teams have until Thursday to use either, but with Green having turned 30 Friday and the Packers unwilling to box themselves into a prescribed salary, the deadline will pass without Green Bay playing tag.

"We haven't even thought about that," said Green's agent, Joby Branion. "That's not been discussed."

Branion wouldn't say what Green is seeking, but after making $2 million in salary and $750,000 in incentives last year, the Packers' second-leading all-time rusher is seeking a major increase. Green was coming off a torn thigh tendon when he signed his one-year deal last season and would like to be compensated for posting a sixth career 1,000-yard rushing season.

The Packers probably aren't willing to up the ante such that Green is in the Deuce McAlister, Lamont Jordan, Domanick Davis $5 million- to $6 million-per-year range, but they're probably willing to match what others such as Corey Dillon, Reuben Droughns, Warrick Dunn and Willie Parker average (around $4 million).

Green, who has professed his love for playing in Green Bay and lives there year round, doesn't appear unwilling to go to the market to prove he's worth more than what the Packers are offering.

"I talk with him almost on a daily basis," Branion said. "He indicated he's in the best shape of his life. He's hungry to get out there and compete. He's in tremendously positive spirits. He's excited about the future. He's excited that Brett (Favre) is coming back. He's optimistic about going forward.

"At the same time, he knows it's still a business. He might have to explore other opportunities. He'd be very happy staying in Green Bay, but he may have to address other possibilities."

The problem with the Packers letting Green test the market is that they don't know how other teams view him.

Would it be surprising if the Denver Broncos, who run the same running system the Packers do, make him their lead back? No. Would it be surprising if Green's old coach, Mike Sherman, convinces the Houston Texans to make a bid for him? Absolutely not.

On the other hand, other teams know how much Green likes playing in Green Bay and might not even bother making a run at him. They might also be skeptical whether at age 30 he can be a dominant back again.

Branion has no doubt Green can be that type of player and he's convinced he would be at the top of the free agent list for teams searching for a running back.

"I'd like to believe so," Branion said. "There's Chris Brown, Jamal Lewis, Dominic Rhodes. That's about it. There's not a whole lot of UFAs. There are probably more teams with need for a top quality player than there are players to fill the position."

If the Packers don't re-sign Green, their options are limited. Backup Vernand Morency hasn't proved he can consistently move the chains, Noah Herron has been deemed a third-down back and 2006 rookie Arliss Beach is an unknown.

The Packers could opt for one of the free agents or they could use the draft to replace Green. The ideal situation would be to re-sign Green and draft his successor, creating a two-headed attack for next season.

"I do know Ahman isn't afraid of that," Branion said. "It doesn't matter to him. He's never about stats. He doesn't even know where he ranks every week. He just wants to win a Super Bowl."

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