Wahle's signing keeps line intact

Just a few hours after the Packers traded for wide receiver Terry Glenn, they announced the re-signing of guard Mike Wahle. That means the Packers' entire offensive line, which set a team record last year for fewest sacks allowed, will remain under contract through the 2002 season.<p>

Wahle, a fifth-year offensive lineman, was an unrestricted free agent and had visited with the Cleveland Browns and San Francisco 49ers. He had just landed in Kansas City to visit with the Chiefs on Thursday when his agent called to inform him of the agreement with the Packers.

Terms of Wahle's deal were not released, but center Mike Flanagan and guard Marco Rivera each signed four-year extensions last year and were given signing bonuses of $2.5 million each. Right tackle Mark Tauscher will become a restricted free agent after the 2002 season ends and left tackle Chad Clifton will become an unrestricted free agent after the 2003 season.

"Those five have to work so cohesively," said Packers coach and general manager Mike Sherman. "Any little chink in the armor in trying to teach a young or a new player a position there can throw things out of whack. It takes a couple years to get everybody on the same page.

"They kind of have a great feel for each other. It's a tremendously tough group, physical group. I am just so pleased that he has remained to be a part of that group."

Wahle, who turns 25 on March 29, feels he will hit his prime at the end of his new contract, with a chance to hit the jackpot in free agency. For now, he said he is happy to be back with the Packers, and never really wanted to sign with another team.

"I'm thrilled it worked out," Wahle said. "Keeping this line together is an important thing. The fact that we're all so young, we're going to have a couple years together. We're going to be able to jell a little bit more. We'll be that much more productive in the upcoming years. I'm real excited to see what happens."

The versatile Wahle started at all 16 games and both postseason games last year for Green Bay. He also has started at left tackle and right guard for the Packers.

Last year the offensive line allowed 22 sacks in the regular season, third fewest in the league and fewest by a Green Bay team in 27 years (17 in 1974).

Sherman said the Packers had tried to negotiate a new deal with Wahle prior to free agency, but was not able to come to terms.

"All along I really wanted to come back to Green Bay," Wahle said. "It just so happened that yesterday we finally came to an agreement on both sides. It took some time, like everything does. There obviously was some interest from some other teams. But, like I said, when it boiled down to it, this is the place I wanted to be."

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