Running back Green wants to cash in
Says he deserves to be paid like the NFLís best Thursday, August 4, 2005

Says he deserves to be paid like the NFLís best

By Rob Demovsky

Ahman Green hasnít complained about being underpaid and never threatened to hold out, but in the end, the Green Bay Packersí running back wants the same thing as Javon Walker.

He wants to be paid like one of the top players in the NFL at his position.

Just because he hasnít been as vocal about it as Walker and his agent Drew Rosenhaus doesnít mean Green and his agents, Joby Branion and David Dunn, will be any easier to deal with come contract time.

The top running backs who have signed contracts in the last year and a half include San Diegoís LaDainian Tomlinson (eight years, $60 million, including a $12.4 million signing bonus), Washingtonís Clinton Portis (eight years, $60 million, including $17 million in signing and option bonuses) and most recently New Orleansí Deuce McAllister (eight years, $50 million, including a $12.5 million signing bonus).

Green, who is entering the final season of a five-year, $18 million contract, said on Wednesday he believes heís in the same class with those backs and deserves to be paid that way.

ďAs long as I keep doing what Iím doing, yeah, I think I do,Ē Green said. ďIíve been consistent since Iíve been here and gotten better every year. With that, I think they have no choice but to give me what Iím due. Definitely, Iíve earned it. Thatís something I can say on the basis of earning it.Ē

Thereís at least one significant difference between Green and the trio of recently signed backs. Tomlinson was 25 years, one month and 22 days old when he signed his extension last summer. Portis was 22 years and six months old when he signed his deal last spring. McAllister was 26 years, seven months and two days old when he inked his contract last week.

Green is 28 years, five months and 19 days old. He will turn 29 two weeks before the free-agent period opens next March.

Though he has been healthy and dependable since he became the Packersí regular starting running back in 2000 ó he has played in 77 of a possible 80 regular-season games in the last five years ó age and the pounding running backs take can catch up with a player at any time.

Green has averaged 1,369.5 yards per season the last five years, and based on how he looks so far in training camp, the Packers have no reason to think he wonít have another productive season. It seems reasonable, however, to ask how much longer he can maintain that level of play.

ďI think heís got a lot left in him,Ē said Reggie McKenzie, the Packersí director of pro personnel. ďHeís not even 30. (Age) 28, 29, 30 ó thatís three more great years. I think heís got some years left in him. I donít think heís been beaten up at all.Ē

Green said his agents have told him thereís been a healthy dialogue with the Packers, but thereís no indication an extension will be worked out in the immediate future. If the Packers want to extend Green, they might be more inclined to offer a contract similar to the one 30-year-old Corey Dillon recently signed with New England. Dillon, who will be 31 in October, signed a contract that could be worth as much as $25 million over five years if an option is picked up in 2007, but for now he will receive $10 million in guaranteed money over the next two years.

Green, who appeared on the cover of the latest issue of Sports Illustrated, said he never considered threatening to hold out like Walker did this offseason.

ďIím here to play football,Ē he said. ďIf I went to school for eight years to become a lawyer and an agent, then Iíd be worried about it. But I play football. Iím out here on the field, and thatís all Iím worried about.Ē

Though he missed practice on Monday and Tuesday due to tightness in his back, he said feels great but admitted he has no idea how his body will feel in a few years.

ďI canít look at five years from now,Ē Green said. ďIíve just got to look at it right now. Iím 28. Next year, Iím 29. If Iím still going, Iíll keep going.Ē

He said he didnít want to think about the possibility that this could be his last season with the Packers.

ďThatís the only part Iím scared about,Ē Green said. ďI donít want to go anywhere else. If I have to, Iíll understand. But if I donít have to, I donít want to. Thatís a scary thought.Ē

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