Driver may steer toward another team

Donald Driver is a restricted free agent, but he may receive a contract in the near future that would be difficult for the Green Bay Packers to match. If so, Driver could be the third wide receiver to depart Green Bay this off-season.<p>

Bill Schroeder (Detroit) and Corey Bradford (Houston) have left Green Bay for chances to start and long-term contracts. Driver is a restricted free agent, meaning the Packers have the right to match any offer from another team. If they don't, they would receive a seventh-round draft pick as compensation because that's the round Driver was selected in by Green Bay in the 1999 NFL draft.

Driver visited with Minnesota on Thursday. The Vikings also are considering Willie Jackson (Saints), Tony Simmons (Colts), and D'Wayne Bates (Bears) to start opposite Randy Moss. Bates also is a restricted free agent, but the Bears could not ask for any compensation from the Vikings due to a front-office clerical error. The Vikings lost wide receivers Cris Carter and Jake Reed (New Orleans) this off-season.

The Packers in February tendered Driver the lowest offer ($563,000).

It is believed that Detroit, Houston and Denver also are interested in Driver, who had 13 catches for 167 yards and one touchdown last year. He also rushed 31 yards for a touchdown late in the season against Minnesota.

If the Packers release Antonio Freeman on June 1 as expected, Driver presumably will be battling Charles Lee for the No. 3 position behind newly acquired Terry Glenn and Robert Ferguson.

Teams seriously interested in Driver will probably wait until late this month or early April to make a front-loaded offer. When the Packers finalize their deal with defensive end Joe Johnson, they will pretty much have depleted any room they had under the salary cap, according to reports.


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