(ALLEN PARK) - Does it get any worse than this? Not only do the Lions not get linebacker Na'il Diggs, a restricted agent signed to an offer sheet last Sunday, their division rivals are basically laughing in their faces.
"To tell the truth, we're thrilled with the offer sheet, because basically all the Lions did was negotiate the contract for us," said one Green Bay official. "It's not a (budget)-breaker, not by any means, and we're definitely matching it."
What a joke! Is this the way the Lions fill an area of major need by writing worthless offer sheets and getting passed over by nearly every free agent linebacker on the market?
Not only were the Packers laughing, but nearly the entire NFL shook their head at the way the Lions virtually helped the Packers keep Diggs and defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila.
Privately, Philadelphia Eagles officials were hoping the Lions would sign Diggs to a very front loaded deal that would have ate up the majority of the remaining salary cap money Green Bay had, that way they would have an easier time constructing an offer sheet for restricted free agent defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila.
As it is, Green Bay will easily absorb the hit and still be in a position to keep their highly regarded pass rusher.
Although it was reported early on that Diggs was trying to talk Green Bay out of matching the offer sheet, the Packers appear to have done an outstanding job bridging the cap and keeping a valuable player on their team.
"Green Bay has been the only NFL home I have known in my career and I am fortunate to play for an outstanding organization and community with the best fans in the League. I look forward to continue playing for one of the most storied franchises in professional sports and to further add to the rich tradition of excellence with the Packer family," said Diggs in a press release. "My only focus is to help the Packers win a Super Bowl title and to become the best football player I can be."
Green Bay head coach and vice-president of football operations Mike Sherman noted, "there have been some sources out there that have suggested that Na'il Diggs was less than happy as a Green Bay Packer."
"In my conversations with Na'il, this message has not been communicated to me, so I do not put much stock in second-hand comments. I must admit, however, that this process has been a positive one since it has become completely clear to Na'il where he stands with me, and what I see as his role on this football team."
Sherman made it clear that he would not allow a difference of opinion with a player get in the way of building a winning team. "[Diggs] has played and will continue to play a very significant part in our success…I'm determined to not let good players leave the Green Bay Packers and Na'il Diggs is one of those players."
By contrast, Millen could never bridge the gap between he and his most accomplished linebacker, Chris Claiborne, and the result is that a 24-year old star is now playing for division rival, Minnesota.