Final stay in Green Bay?

Kicker relishes reunion with ex-holder Josh Bidwell, warm-weather team

Kicker Ryan Longwell has grown weary of being left out in the Green Bay cold, figuratively speaking.

As one of 15 veteran players with the team whose contracts expire after the season, the Packers' all-time leading scorer said last week that he's intrigued by the possibility of moving and continuing his career with another team next year.

"It's a lot more than me now at this stage of my life, (with wife) Sarah and (two young) kids -- where the kids are going to school, where we're going to live. It's definitely a bigger factor than just me kicking," Longwell said.

He recounted a recent conversation with Sarah about how much they have invested in Green Bay since the Packers took a chance on the undrafted free agent in 1997. Longwell has been their kicker ever since and, earlier this season, became the first Green Bay player to score 1,000 points.

"We've been here for almost a decade of our lives. That's a long time," the 32-year-old Longwell said. "We have no intention of leaving. But, obviously, there has to be a desire to want us back. So, we're kind of curious to see how it pans out."

Thus far, the Packers haven't broached talks with Longwell and his agent about a new contract.

While he won't come out and say it himself, there's a perception that Longwell is being slighted and taken for granted. He's the fourth-most accurate kicker in league history, doing so in the face of perhaps the harshest weather conditions in the latter part of the season.

Alas, Longwell has never been selected to the Pro Bowl. It's an objective he would like to fulfill, and he realizes that it probably would require a change of scenery to a warm-weather locale to improve his chances of scoring the elusive trip to Hawaii.

"We've had a lot of success here. But, having said that, you need to be somewhat rewarded for kicking in a difficult place," Longwell said. "You realize you may not go to a Pro Bowl kicking here."

Only two Packers kickers -- Don Chandler in 1967 and Chester Marcol in 1972 and '74 -- have been chosen for the Pro Bowl.

It's not lost on Longwell that former teammates Craig Hentrich and Josh Bidwell, both punters, have benefited greatly after escaping frosty Green Bay as free agents. Hentrich has made the Pro Bowl twice with Tennessee. Bidwell, in his second year with Tampa Bay, is a good bet Wednesday to earn his first trip to the all-star game.

Longwell makes it no secret that an opportunity to reunite with Bidwell in Florida would be an ideal setup. Longwell and his family make their offseason home in the famed Isleworth golf community outside Orlando.

"I'd love to have him as a teammate because having your best friend as your holder and teammate would be a lot of fun," Longwell said.

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