Good deals in Green Bay

Green Bay Packers management earned some much-needed credibility with its players this past weekend. In the midst of Fan Fest – a two-day love-in where Cheeseheads from all over the world descend on Lambeau Field for autographs from current and former players – the team reached agreement with Pro Bowl safety Nick Collins, franchise-tagged nose tackle Ryan Pickett and longtime tackle and fan favorite Mark Tauscher. All three are popular and respected in the Packers locker room, and these deals will serve the team well.

However, as happens so often in football administration, no good deed ever go unpunished. There are still a few players whose contracts have not been addressed and who are now asking, “What about me?” as they form a line at the door. The low rumble of discontent may pick up a notch soon in Green Bay.

As for the deals, they look to be strong numbers for Collins and Pickett, two contracts that the team has been working on for months. The recent actions of the two – with Pickett making no complaints about the tag and Collins signing his tender sheet without complaint – put the pressure on the team to step up and reward them.

Grease gets greased

“Grease” Pickett, as he’s called, reportedly will receive $10 million next season, $3 million more than the tag amount he was saddled with at the start of free agency. The Packers were teed up with a team-friendly deal from the Steelers, where Casey Hampton signed for three years and $21M, with $11M guaranteed. Pickett’s deal – four years, $28M – is comparable to Hampton but not at the level of last week’s Patriots deal for Vince Wilfork, which had $18M in bonus and $25M in guarantees. The Packers used the franchise tag to their advantage with Pickett, setting up a negotiation off a one-year, $7M deal with an option for another tag next year.

Collins’ long wait rewarded

The Collins negotiation was one that many in the Packers locker room were watching to see how management handled it. Players were wondering about the team’s interest in holding its large and talented restricted free agent class hostage under their tender offers, with Collins being the most talented of the group.

Many wondered about the team’s decision to extend Greg Jennings – also a popular player and class person – after three years in the league while letting Collins play out his five-year rookie contract since both would have been restricted free agents in 2010. I remember meeting tremendous resistance from his camp about the length, but assuring them that we would re-do Nick’s deal prior to its expiration. Well, it took a little longer than that, but at the end of the day, the Packers showed Collins the money.

Collins will receive $14M in 2010, $4M more than the recent top-of-market safety, Antrel Rolle, received from the Giants.

Tauscher: home-field advantage

Mark Tauscher, born and bred in Wisconsin, schooled at the University of Wisconsin and a member of the Packers for a decade, was not going to be playing anywhere else. The team had a built-in advantage in signing Mark again, even though he’s as savvy as they come (I negotiated one of Mark’s contracts directly with him, without an agent).

The Packers have now kept their bookend tackles – Tauscher and Chad Clifton – who have been lining up for a decade, two high-character guys who were fixtures at Lambeau and, luckily for the Packers, were not going anywhere in free agency, as the incumbent team had a built-in advantage.

Re-signing Tauscher and Clifton allows the Packers to look elsewhere at the top of the upcoming draft since they did not want to use a high pick to draft a tackle.

A good weekend for the Green and Gold (now also the Blue and Gold with the alternate jersey) amid the adulation of Cheeseheads. But the offseason is just beginning.

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For a look at five QBs who could be dealt before training camp, check out this article from Bleacher Report.

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