Franks, Packers close to deal

Tight end may report for practice early next week

Sherman: Bubba Franks is close to signing a seven-year contract extension worth $28 million with the Green Bay Packers, according to reports today.

The Packers placed the "transition" tag on Franks at the start of free agency. The sixth-year pro opted not to sign the tender and instead did not report to training camp while his agent and the Packers worked out a long-term deal.

Packers coach Mike Sherman said that Franks has not signed a contract to his knowledge, but is anxious to have the Pro Bowler in camp.

The Packers have been depleted lately at the position. Backup David Martin has not practiced this week because of a groin injury. Ben Steele injured his neck and back in an exhibition against the Buffalo Bills last Saturday, but returned to practiced on Tuesday.

"If indeed that is going to happen, we certainly will welcome him back with open arms and give him his locker and have him take us all out to dinner," Sherman told reporters after practice today.

Franks only had 34 catches last year and is not a deep threat, but is a big target, durable, and has been invaluable to the offense in the opponents' "red zone."

"The guy does his job everyday to the very best of his ability," Sherman said. "If he doesn't have a great day, you tell him and he gets it fixed. He came here as a young player and has matured very fast. He does his job. I think to be a part of the National Football League you have to have talent, but there has to be trust and dependability involved there as well. I have tremendous trust, and I depend on him being there every day. "Bubba Franks is there for every practice, every game. Does he catch every ball? Not all of them, but he sure as heck tries to."

Sherman has kept in touch with Franks during training camp. The coach feels that Franks has kept himself in good shape. If he were to report to Green Bay tomorrow, Sherman said he will not play against the Patriots in an exhibition on Friday night at Lambeau Field.

Still, the Packers are optimistic that Franks will be ready to go when they open Sept. 11 at Detroit.

"Bubba's a worker," said offensive coordinator Tom Rossley. "There's no question he'll get himself ready to play."

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