Money matters

Five of Packers' 11 picks sign for four or more seasons; Couch grievance settled

So far five of the Green Bay Packers' 11 draft picks have signed contracts for at least four seasons, according to a report today in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Last year, the final eight of Green Bay's nine picks signed contracts for three seasons or less.

Players become unrestricted free agents after four seasons in the National Football League. Most rookie draft picks prefer three-year deals to longer-term deals, so they can test the waters in free agency.

Junius Coston, a fifth-round pick, signed a five-year, $2.146 million contract, according to the Journal Sentinel. He signed May 17 and was the second pick in the entire draft to sign.

Cornerback Mike Hawkins (fifth round) signed a four-year, $1.529 million deal; defensive end Mike Montgomery (sixth round) signed a four-year, $1.487 million deal; linebacker Kurt Campbell (seventh round) signed a four-year, $1.427 million deal; and guard Will Whitticker (seventh round) signed a four-year, $1.426 million deal.

The signing bonuses, guaranteed money usually paid upfront, for each of the players were: Coston ($216,000), Hawkins ($144,000), Montgomery ($102,000), Campbell ($41,500) and Whitticker ($41,500).

All players received minimum base salaries of $230,000 in 2005, $310,000 in '06, $385,000 in '07 and $460,000 in '08. Coston's base in '09 is $545,000.

Couch grievance
The Packers and Tim Couch settled a grievance that was filed by the former quarterback against Green Bay. The settlement allowed the Packers to clear $214,206 under their adjusted salary cap of $86.227 million for 2005, according to a report in the Journal Sentinel.

Couch was released by Green Bay on Sept. 5 of last year. He maintained in the grievance that he was released while he was injured. Couch missed some practices in training camp last year because of arm soreness, though, he played in the team's final exhibition game two days before he was released.

Because Couch filed the grievance in September, the Packers were forced to count 50 percent of his base salary of $625,000 against the team's salary cap, or $312,500. It is believed that Couch received just under $100,000 as his part of the settlement, which is confidential. The $214,206 was added to the Packers' cap room this year as a credit for the hit they were forced to absorb in 2004.

Tim English, an attorney for the NFL Players Association, argued and negotiated on behalf of Couch. The Packers were represented by a lawyer for the NFL management council.<

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