Flanigan gives D-line needed depth

Jim Flanigan, who was born and raised near Green Bay, agreed to a one-year contract with the Packers on Tuesday. Flanigan gives Green Bay's defensive line much-needed depth because of injuries to veteran Santana Dotson and second-year pro Steve Warren.<p>

Flanigan is a native of neighboring Sturgeon Bay, Wis., and the son of former Packers linebacker Jim Flanigan, Sr. The seventh-year pro started the last six seasons for the Chicago Bears, but was released in late April for salary cap reasons. He became expendable after the club signed mammoth free agent tackles Ted Washington and Keith Traylor.

Flanigan joins Green Bay less than two weeks after former Bears vice president of personnel Mark Hatley was hired as the Packers' vice president of football operations. Before he left the Bears, Hatley cut Flanigan last month.

Flanigan was schedule to receive a base salary of $2.7 million this season. The Packers were believed to be about $1.3 million below the salary cap before signing Flanigan, but they also needed about $1 million to sign their six draft picks.

"He adds quality depth to our defensive line and brings an element of leadership and character to our team," GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman said.

"We have played against Jim over the years and he has performed well against us. It will be nice to have him in the Green and Gold this time around. I believe he fits our style of defense since he is a player who relies on quickness and speed as opposed to pure size. We did this deal because we think he can help us win football games. It is an added benefit that he is a local guy who grew up knowing the Green Bay Packers and having a dad who played linebacker for us back in the late 60s."

Flanigan (6-foot-2, 290 pounds) started 88 of 108 games he played since joining the Bears in 1994 as a third-round draft pick from Notre Dame. In seven seasons, he compiled 463 tackles, 40.5 sacks, six forced fumbles, six fumble recoveries and one interception. He led the Bears in sacks three times, a rarity for a tackle, recording a career-high 11 in 1995.

Flanigan's playing time in the nickel defense was reduced last season, and he registered only four sacks, the fewest since his rookie year. He had 63 and 64 tackles the past two seasons after compiling 81 in 1997 and 86 in '98.

Flanigan becomes only the second second-generation Packer in team annals (his father, a linebacker, played four seasons for Green Bay - 1967-70). Defensive back Ron Pitts (1988-90) was the first, following his father, running back Elijah Pitts (1961-69, '71), a member of the Packer Hall of Fame, who helped Green Bay win five NFL titles and the first two Super Bowls.

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