Nick Barnett frustrated his status remains up in the air
The writing appears to be on the wall but nothing is settled at this point and that uncertainty is something Nick Barnett wishes he could have cleared up. The sooner the better.
The veteran Green Bay Packers linebacker appears that he might not be in the team’s plans for 2011, not as a starter anyway. Coach Mike McCarthy has already said that A.J. Hawk and Desmond Bishop, who both have received new contracts recently, are projected to be the team’s starting inside linebackers.
That could leave Barnett as a former star without a position. Barnett has two years remaining on a $35 million contract that includes a base salary of $5.5 million for 2011. Even as beat up as the Packers were last season, it’s highly unlikely they’re going to spend anything close to that to preserve depth on the roster.
Barnett, a first-round draft pick from 2003 who is 10 tackles shy of tying for the franchise’s all-time record, would like to finish his career where it started. But as he details on ESPN Milwaukee, he knows that is unlikely.
“There’s a lot of uncertainty to be honest. I am under contract with the Packers two more years, but there’s been talk of trades – not necessarily directly to me – but we’ll see what happens,” Barnett said, according to Jason Wilde. “I know I’ll be playing football. I’m probably in the best shape I’ve been in in the last three years. And super hungry and excited to play. I would love to finish my career as a Packer and retire as a Packer and obviously break that record.
“I’m willing to do a lot of things to be a part of that organization, but it’s hard to get the dialogue because of the lockout. We can’t get anything going, or any conversations, and see where each other stands. I’m willing to be a Packer and willing to do a lot of things to do it. But we can’t talk, so we don’t know where we stand.”
Barnett suffered a serious wrist injury last season, similar to what cost Brian Urlacher of the Chicago Bears 15 games in the 2009 season. But he’s ready to go now, so health isn’t an issue. It’s also a good thing that he didn’t suffer a lower body injury that could potentially impact his speed and range.
“I would be cleared today, ready to play,” he said.
He’s hoping a desire to remain deep will keep him in the fold.
“We had those same linebackers last year, and what happens if we don’t have that type of depth of good linebackers?” Barnett said. “What happens if they release a couple of us and one gets hurt? Then they’re searching for an inside linebacker. It’s all about depth. We made it to the Super Bowl because of depth.
“I think the biggest thing they’re worried about is players complaining about playing. If it comes down to that, let the best players play. I don’t have any confidence issues. I feel like I can line up and compete with any of those guys and win. I think they’re all great players, but I know I know how to play this game. I’ve been playing a long time. I’m ready to do whatever.”
It would be interesting to see what happened if the Packers approached him about taking a pay cut. Who knows what the future holds right now. The lockout needs to be solved first.
“If I end up on the Packers, I hope I do, but if I don’t, somebody’s going to be happy to have me,” Barnett told Wilde.
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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune