Falcons offer Wolf record contract

Former Packers general manager Ron Wolf, less than a year into retirement, may soon be back in the NFL as general manager of the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons today offered Wolf a four-year, $16 million contract to run their football operations.<p>

ESPN.com reported that Wolf is expected to make a decision by midnight on Tuesday. The offer by the Falcons is believed to be the most lucrative deal ever made for a NFL general manager. Wolf averaged $2.3 million over the last three years of his contract with the Packers. He is being paid $500,000 a year as a consultant by the Packers.

If Wolf accepts the offer by new Falcons owner Arthur Blank, the Packers have said that they will seek compensation in the form of a draft choice. Packers president Bob Harlan said that the Packers coach and general manager Mike Sherman will determine the compensation. Some experts feel the the Packers may demand a first round choice in this year's NFL draft, or possibly two selections – one this year and one next season.

Wolf, 63, said prior to leaving Green Bay that he would only return to the NFL as a part-owner. But he recently has changed his mind, saying he would come back if he received a big offer.

The negotiations between Blank and Wolf intensified over the weekend. The two first met face-to-face on March 8 in Atlanta.

Wolf's deal would be worth $9 million over two years if he and Blank mutually decided to end the relationship at that point, and $13 million if Wolf departed after three years, according to ESPN.com.

Wolf spearheaded the Packers' return to Super Bowl prominence in the 1990s. He retired as general manager of the Packers after last season and left behind a legacy of greatness. He built the Packers into perennial NFL contenders during his nine-year tenure, punctuated by their first Super Bowl victory in three decades and back-to-back appearances in professional football's ultimate game.

A New Freedom, Pa., native, was enshrined in the Packer Hall of Fame in July of 2000 for converting the Green and Gold from perennial also-rans into consistent winners and the standard of the pro football world.

A major ingredient in the Packers' revival was Wolf's talent for selecting players in the annual NFL draft. A contribution underscored by the fact that a remarkable 57.8 percent of those he has drafted during his tenure were still playing in the league at the end of the 2000 regular season at a time when the average career length for an NFL player is closer to four years.

Before retiring, Wolf fired Ray Rhodes and subsequently hired Sherman to coach the Packers. He also dealt cornerback Fred Vinson to the Seattle Seahawks for running back Ahman Green, one of the biggest steals in NFL history. Green has had back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons while Vinson has played little for the Seahawks.

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