Driver Pissed. Kampman Silent. Tramon Rich. Harrell Healthy?
All of this came out on the first day of the Green Bay Packers’ OTAs, which, for the uninitiated stands for organized team activities. OTAs are basically a way for coaches to get the team together and start practice before the NFL officially allows them to start practice.
OTAs are not mandatory, but it is generally frowned upon if a player doesn’t show up, which brings me to Donald Driver.
Driver didn’t show up for the first day of OTAs. The Wisconsin State Journal reported that he’s not happy with his contract – one that will pay the 34-year-old wideout a $3.9 million base salary this season and a $4 million base salary in 2010.
This is the fourth straight year Driver has approached the team about improving his deal. According to one source, Driver first approached the team at the annual FanFest in March.
This seems odd, considering Driver has been vocal in the past when scumbags like Javon Walker decided to hold out for a new contract. It also seems odd considering Driver is coming off his worst season since 2003 and that Greg Jennings is now the Packers’ clear-cut No. 1 receiver.
Several sources, including the State Journal, noted that Driver is training in Texas.
Contacted via e-mail, Driver’s agent, Jordan Woy, said Driver “is training in Texas and the Packers know this. It is not a mandatory camp.”
You can also add safety Nick Collins to the Conspicuous By Their Absence files. Collins, who is in the final year of his rookie deal, is scheduled to make $3.045 million this season, after some escalator clauses in his contract kicked in. Although it’s not a shabby number, Collins is coming off his first Pro Bowl campaign and feels he’s given up one year of free agency, according to the Green Bay Press Gazette.
Collins was a second-round pick in 2005, the last year in which the Packers’ players drafted after the first round were given five-year contracts. Players picked after the first round beginning in 2006 all received four-year deals. Because players become unrestricted free agents after four seasons, Collins essentially gave up one year of free agency.
That’s one way to look at it. Another way is that the guy is in the prime of his career and playing at a Pro Bowl level – it’s time to pay him, Ted.
Word is Collins will not report to any activities that are not mandatory until the Packers show a willingness to talk about a new deal. Unfortunately for Collins, Greg Jennings is also in the final year of his contract and is first in line for an extension.
And so, on to Packers who are at OTAs and unhappy.
You can drop outside linebacker Aaron Kampman into that category. Well, it’s not so much that Kampman has voiced any displeasure – it’s more that his silence is deafening.
Kampman has continually been asked to talk about his switch from defensive end to outside linebacker this offseason. He has continually declined to say anything, which is odd for a guy who has been very open with reporters throughout his career.
This points to Kampman’s possible dissatisfaction about the position switch, the new defense, concern that he can’t make the transition, or all of the above.
The Journal Sentinel’s Greg Bedard had a few interesting thoughts on the situation.
Sorry, but when your most accomplished defensive player doesn’t talk after even the team urged him to do so, I think you’ve got a problem. And Kampman’s prolonged silence only invites speculation. He has been told this. He knows this. And he continues to let it happen. He also puts it on his teammates and coaches to answer questions about him. He knows all of this. Yet he still remains silent.
… he’s declining comment now, so he’s likely going with the “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” approach.
Of course, if I were asked to switch positions after seven years from one that I had mastered and had risen to Pro Bowl level in a contract year, and if my team didn’t seem eager to talk extension until they saw how I made this transition (which could end up costing me money if I flop), then I probably wouldn’t want to say much either.
ESPN’s Kevin Seifert isn’t ready to jump to the same conclusions, though.
It’s possible that Kampman doesn’t want to take a public stand on the change until he gives it a try on the practice field. Those efforts only started this week. You could argue that Kampman knows how his silence will be interpreted by most people, and that he could negate that assumption by making a few benign statements. But I’ve always thought it’s wrong to hold a player’s reluctance to speak against him by assuming the worst unless he indicates otherwise.
But hey, how about some positive news? Well, we can do that too.
From the It’s Time to Get Paid! files, comes news that cornerback Tramon Williams did just that.
As first reported by the National Football Post, Williams received a one-year deal worth a total of $900,000. Included in that is a base salary of $525,000 and a signing bonus of $375,000.
As an exclusive rights free agent, all the Packers owed Tramon was $460,000, so he was rewarded big time, and rightfully so after filling in admirably for Al Harris last season. If he isn’t signed to an extension, Williams will be a restricted free agent after the season, giving the Packers the right to match any contract offer he receives.
Finally, from the It’s About Fucking Time files, former first-round pick Justin Harrell says he’s finally pain free. This comes from a guy who has spent most of the past two seasons on injured reserve.
If healthy, Harrell has a real opportunity to make an impact in the new 3-4 defensive scheme. At 6-4, 310, Harrell has the type of big body suited for the defensive end spot, where he will be asked to hold the point of attack so the Packers’ linebackers can flow to the ball.
While I have been quick to chastise Ted Thompson for drafting Harrell in the past, he has a legitimate shot to contribute in the 3-4. Now that he’s finally healthy, this will be his best opportunity to do so.
If Harrell fails this year, then he will clearly deserve the bust tag that I’ve had reserved for him.
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Monty McMahon is one of the founders of Total Packers. He is probably the most famous graduate of UW-Oshkosh next to Jim Gantner.