Clifton contract countdown

When it comes to making a decision about free-agent left tackle Chad Clifton, the Packers' days are numbered. The team has just five days remaining to decide whether to use a franchise or transition tag on Clifton.<p>

The deadline for designating franchise and transition players is Tuesday, Feb. 24. Either tag would help the Packers keep Clifton, who would otherwise become an unrestricted free agent. A franchise tag would mean the Packers have to count $7.021 million against the salary cap, but would all but guarantee that the tackle would not leave via free-agency; another team would have to give the Packers two first-round draft choices in return. A transition tag would count $6.012 million, and would give the Packers the right to match any offers.

The 27-year-old Clifton also has another option. If he signs a long-term deal with the Packers before next Tuesday, which would keep other teams out of the mix, or by March 3, when Clifton would become an unrestricted free agent. To that end, the Packers expect to continue talks with Clifton's agent this week, possibly meeting today at the scouting combine in Indianapolis.

However, signing Clifton to a lucrative long-term deal would mean that the team would have to restructure several contracts to stay under the $78.5 million salary cap.

If that doesn't get accomplished, look for Clifton to draw big interest from around the league. A "steal" for the Packers last season with a cap salary of just more than $800,000, Clifton is already rumored to be on Cleveland's free agency wish-list.

Packer Report Top Stories