Packers expect to retain restricted free agents

Contract talks turn to the Packers' four restricted free agents as Tuesday marks the deadline for teams to submit qualifying offers to those players. Head coach/GM Mike Sherman said the team plans to retain tight end David Martin, defensive tackle Rod Walker, linebacker Torrance Marshall and defensive back Bhawoh Jue, all restricted free agents.<p>

The Packers plan to give all the low tender of $628,000 before the deadline, Sherman said. The qualifying offers mean the team will end up applying about $2.5 million toward the salary cap. When the free-agency period begins at midnight Wednesday, teams can sign any of the restricted free agents to an offer sheet, but the Packers have the right to match the offer. If the team declines to match an offer, the signing team must compensate with a draft pick corresponding to the round in which the restricted free agent was originally picked.

The team recent re-signed safety Curtis Fuller, who would have become a restricted free agent.

Meanwhile, talks continue between team negotiator Andrew Brandt and Chad Clifton's representative, agent Jimmy Sexton. The parties hope to firm-up a long-term contract for Clifton, designated as the Packers' franchise player last week.

If the Packers and Clifton can not strike a deal by Wednesday, Green Bay will have to count $;7.021 million against the cap and Clifton will be a free agent. If that happens, the Packers would retain the right to match any offer Clifton receives or decline and receive compensation of two first round draft picks.

This year an amended league rule gives the Packers two additional weeks to work out a contract with Clifton and retroactively take his tender figure off the salary cap.

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