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Freeman balks at restructured deal

The Green Bay Packers and the agent for Antonio Freeman have talked about restructuring the former Pro Bowl wide receiver's contract, but Freeman says he doesn't "feel comfortable'' with a pay cut.<p>

Freeman spoke with reporters while attending the Milwaukee Bucks-Sacramento Kings basketball game in Milwaukee Sunday afternoon. The Packers want Freeman to restructure the seven-year, $42 million deal he signed prior to the 1999 season. He is scheduled to receive a $4.3 million salary this year, but may not even start now that Terry Glenn is in the fold.

Coach Mike Sherman said Saturday that he hasn't talked lately with Freeman, but that Packers' negotiator Andrew Brandt has had talks with Joel Segal, Freeman's agent. Sherman says he expects Freeman to attend the team's post-draft minicamp in late April.

Freeman says he just wants to play, and it doesn't necessarily have to be in Green Bay. "My role on the offense could be reduced, as well as my pay, and it's just not a situation I'm happy with,'' Freeman said. "It's not about money, it's about happiness right now, and I don't think being back in Green Bay will make me happy.

"There's no $4.3 million No. 2 receivers in the NFL, and I'm not willing to take a $2 million pay cut. Then you bring a guy in and give him a $7 million signing bonus.'' Freeman said he was happy for Glenn.

"I can't really judge that man, because I don't know him. I don't know what he's done. They brought Terry Glenn in, that's a good catch for them. But at the same time, it's time for me to move on.''

Freeman was drafted by the Packers in the third round of the 1995 draft. Since then he has combined with Brett Favre for 57 touchdowns. Freeman was Green Bay's best receiver in the postseason, catching 13 passes for 138 yards and three touchdowns. But in the last three seasons his numbers have dropped off since he caught 84 passes for a league-high 1,424 yards and 14 touchdowns in 1998. He was named to the NFL All-Pro team and the Pro Bowl.

If the Packers cut Freeman before June 1, they would only gain about $20,000 in salary cap room, according to reports. If they release him after June 1, they would gain $4.3 million in cap room this year, but would have to count $4.28 million against the cap in 2003 because they would have to accelerate the remaining pro-rated portion of his signing bonus.

"Maybe Glenn is the fit for them, maybe he can get them to the Super Bowl,'' Freeman said. "I don't know, but I've been there. I've done that. So it's no problem for me to step away.

"I had a very accomplished career in Green Bay. I don't regret anything. But you don't go from a No. 1 to a No. 2 – if you're going to do that, you move to another team.''

Freeman, who turns 30 on May 27, did not totally rule out returning to the Packers.

"I'm not 100 percent sure, because I don't hold all the cards,'' Freeman said. "I'm just basically saying how I feel. Now, how do the Green Bay Packers feel, that's another thing. I'm not saying that I don't ever want to play for them. My gut feeling is that I've played my last down in Green Bay.''

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