Green gets more green
Running back Ahman Green's new contract will keep him in Green Bay through the 2005 season Wednesday, July 25, 2001
Green Bay News-Chronicle

Running back Ahman Green's new contract will keep him in Green Bay through the 2005 season

By Doug Ritchay
News-Chronicle

When the Green Bay Packers traded for Ahman Green on April 15, 2000, Green was viewed by the Packers as someone who would return kickoffs, play on special teams coverage units and back up starting running back Dorsey Levens.

As for Green becoming a major contributor in the backfield, the Packers hoped someday that could happen, perhaps in a couple years.

Midway through the 2000 season, however, Green stepped to the forefront when Levens was sidelined the final eight games with a bruised kneecap. Green played like a seasoned All-Pro and ended the season with 1,175 rushing yards, a team-high 73 receptions and 13 touchdowns.

Green's performance last year, his age (24), health and his athletic ability led to a contract extension that he signed Tuesday. Green, who inked a one-year tender worth $1.115 million this spring, signed a four-year deal worth about $16 million. He will play under the tender this season, and his four-year deal starts in 2002.

"He's a tireless worker and he proved himself to me in the last year as someone special, both on and off the field," said general manager/head coach Mike Sherman. "I'm very excited we could get this deal done. He wanted to play in Green Bay, and we wanted him here. I am confident he will take the ball and run with it, so to speak."

Green, 6-foot, 217 pounds, could have waited until next spring to sign a multi-year deal, but by signing now Green secures his future with the Packers, and he doesn't have to worry about production this season or injury, which could have affected contract negotiations next year.

He could have chanced it and waited to sign a contract, hoping he'd have a better season this year to cash in on a bigger deal. There's a risk-reward factor either way, and Green and the Packers are pleased the deal was signed Tuesday.

"I called my dad last night and he said, 'Whooh!,'" Green said. "The hard work paid off."

The Packers and Green wanted to complete the deal before the start of training camp this week, but if a deal had not been struck, Green said it would not have affected his play.

"This is kind of like a monkey off my back," said Green, who played his first two seasons in Seattle after being drafted in the third round out of Nebraska. "If it wasn't done, I wouldn't have worried about it. I would have went out there and been a team player."

With the new contract comes added pressure for Green to earn the big money. He joins quarterback Brett Favre (10 years, $101.5 million), safety Darren Sharper (five years, $30 million) and kicker Ryan Longwell (five years, $15 million), as Packers who signed major deals this off-season.

Some Packers have signed lucrative contracts in the past and failed to meet expectations. Wide receiver Antonio Freeman has struggled since signing a seven-year, $41.8 million deal in 1999; injuries have plagued Levens since signing a five-year, $25 million deal in 1998; and defensive tackle Santana Dotson has been OK after signing a five-year, $25.5 million deal in 1999.

"I have to expect the best out of myself," Green said.

Green's signing is typical of the Packers. Whereas most teams target other teams' players to sign, the Packers look at their own first.

They view Green as an important piece to the puzzle of returning the Packers not only to the playoffs, but the Super Bowl. He is now crossed off next year's free-agent list, and his signing can be viewed as getting a jump on next year's free-agent period.

"Everything we do here is with the future in mind," Sherman said. "When a free agent (from your team) tests the market, it's disrupting. I think players play better when the deal is done."

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