Earlier this off-season there appeared to be no reason to bring him back in 2004, the fourth year of his original five-year, $9 million contract. But the Packers didn't like the group of pass-rushing defensive ends in the draft and elected not to select one. That left the door slightly cracked open for Reynolds, and he took advantage of numerous reps in the team's recent mini-camp.
"It's probably the best he's looked since he's been here from a movement standpoint," said Reggie McKenzie, Green Bay's director of pro personnel.
Reynolds has a $217,250 roster bonus due before the start of training camp. If the Packers cut him before June 1 they would take a $633,750 cap hit this year. If they cut him after June 1 and no team claims his modest $455,000 base salary, they'd have to take a $1.3 million hit in 2005.
Reynolds weighed 259 pounds at the recent five-day mini-camp, five to 10 more pounds than in recent seasons. According to one veteran offensive linemen he wasn't as quick to quit on plays as in the past.
Former safety LeRoy Butler, who was in camp helping coach the secondary, said Reynolds looked better than any player on defense.
"Maybe it was the juice in his legs, or burst," McKenzie said. "Just the explosion that he showed coming out of college, he showed some of that. He looked pretty good."
Who is going to play the end opposite Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila on passing downs? It still might be Reynolds.
"If it's best for him to go somewhere else we're going to consider that," McKenzie said. "But we're going to consider keeping him, too."
McKenzie felt that Reynolds, who underwent microfracture surgery on his left knee in January 2002, might continue to move better the longer he is removed from the surgery.
In any event, Reynolds has forced the Packers to at least think twice if they have intended all along to say good-bye this summer.
Note: Todd Korth is managing editor of Packer Report. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.