Free agency: Restricted free agents

The Packers have an impressive list of players bound for restricted free agency. Their ability to keep them, however, is tightly constrained by the salary cap.

By signing Bubba Franks to a transition-player offer of $2.095 million earlier in the week, the Packers are about $7.5 million over the salary cap. The Packers have to get down to the projected $85.5 million cap by Tuesday. Getting that accomplished will be even more difficult because the salary cap deadline of March 1 is also the day the Packers must make offers to their restricted free agents.

The Packers' seven restricted free agents are defensive end Aaron Kampman, backup running back Najeh Davenport, backup offensive tackle Kevin Barry, quarterbacks Craig Nall and J.T. O'Sullivan, reserve linebacker Paris Lenon and reserve defensive end R-Kal Truluck.

In restricted free agency — awarded to players with three years of NFL service whose contract has expired — the Packers have the choice of three, one-year tender offers.

— The low tender reportedly will be worth $656,000. If that player signs elsewhere, the Packers would be given a draft pick corresponding with the round in which that player was drafted. If an undrafted free agent such as Barry departs, the Packers would receive no compensation.

— The middle tender reportedly will be worth $1.43 million. If that player signs elsewhere, the Packers would receive a first-round pick.

— The high tender reportedly will be worth $1.906 million. If that player signs elsewhere, the Packers would receive first- an third-round draft picks.

None of the seven restricted free agents is worth the highest tender, especially with the difference in dollars. Davenport and Kampman, however, almost certainly will get the middle offer, with the Packers hoping the first-round pick is enough to scare off some interested suitors.

Davenport was in demand even before he had a breakout game when he got the start against St. Louis. His injury history, however, could make teams shy away. Also, there is a good crop of running backs available in free agency — especially when Buffalo releases Travis Henry — and the draft, so Davenport's value is probably less today than it was in August.

Kampman is the team's most dependable defensive lineman. New defensive coordinator Jim Bates puts a premium on the play of his defensive ends.

Barry could get the middle tender, too, only because he would leave Green Bay without compensation. With Marco Rivera an unrestricted free agent and Mike Wahle's future in Green Bay in severe doubt — he will be released by Tuesday to clear $11 million off the salary cap — the Packers may have an opening or two on the starting unit. Barry is the only experienced backup.

Nall is an interesting case, too, because he showed enough ability during limited duty last season to at least merit a look as a potential long-term answer should Brett Favre retire. With Favre's status in limbo — though most signs point to him coming back — the Packers would be dire straits if Nall signs elsewhere and Favre abruptly retires.

If given the lowest of the three tenders, the Packers would get a fourth-rounder for losing Davenport, fifth-rounders for losing Kampman or Nall and a sixth-rounder for losing O'Sullivan. Barry, Truluck and Lenon were not drafted.


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