Linebacker signs offer sheet with Lions

Linebacker Na'il Diggs became the second Green Bay Packers restricted free agent to sign an offer sheet with another team this off-season. Diggs Sunday signed a four-year deal with the Detroit Lions.<p>

The contract reportedly includes a $2.8 million signing bonus with a first year salary-cap number around $2.2 million. Earlier this month, restricted free agent safety Matt Bowen signed accepted a four-year, $6 million offer from the Washington Redskins that the Packers did not match.

Green Bay has until Sunday to match the Lions' offer. If they don't, they will receive Detroit's fourth-round draft pick as compensation because Green Bay gave Diggs the minimum tender prior to the start of free agency.

The Packers also are trying to sign defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila to a long-term contract. Gbaja-Biamila also is a restricted free agent who was tendered the second highest of three tender levels by the Packers.

Green Bay reportedly is a little less than $5 million under the $75.3 million salary cap and matching Detroit's offer would leave them with less than $3 million of available space.

Diggs reportedly is trying to discourage the Packers from matching the offer.

If the Packers let Diggs go to the Lions, they would enter this season with a new corp of linebackers. Nate Wayne signed with Philadelphia on March 14 a few days after he was released, and the Packers are not likely to re-sign veteran Hardy Nickerson. Green Bay signed free agent Hannibal Navies to play middle linebacker last week. They also have had veteran linebackers Charlie Clemons and Dwayne Rudd in for visits. Third-year pro Torrance Marshall likely will have an opportunity to start at one of the outside linebacker positions after struggling to learn the middle linebacker position last year.

Diggs has started as Green Bay's strongside linebacker since his rookie season in 2000. He started all 16 regular season games and each post-season game for the second straight season, finishing with a career-high 111 tackles. He also had three interceptions, three sacks and two forced fumbles in arguably his best season.

Diggs was second on the team for most plays (offense, defense and special teams) in 2002 with 1,038. Guard Mike Wahle led the Packers with 1,130 total plays.


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