Manuel, who started at free safety for the Seahawks after the first six games when Ken Hamlin sustained season-ending head injuries in a bar fight, is expected to receive a multi-year deal from the Packers. One sourse told the Journal Sentinel that both the Packers and Manuel have agreed to a five-year contract worth $10 million, including a signing bonus of $2 million.
Under league rules, the Packers cannot sign Manuel, 26, until after the start of free agency. It is against league rules for teams and agents to negotiate contracts, but all teams routinely bend the rules in advance of free agency.
Packers general manager Ted Thompson is familiar with Manuel, drafted by Cincinnati in the sixth round in 2002. Thompson worked for Seattle in September of 2004 when Manuel was waived by the Bengals and claimed by the Seahawks. Before that, the Packers had looked into the possibility of trading for Manuel, according to the Journal Sentinel. Manuel was a backup to Hamlin in 2004 and early last season till he got an opportunity to start in Week 7.
Manuel presumably will replace Mark Roman at free safety in Green Bay's secondary. Roman improved last season, but still fell short of making big plays. The Packers are thrilled with Nick Collins, who played well as a rookie last season. If the Packers sign Manuel, he and Collins are the likely starters at safety for 2006.
Though Manuel has started 23 of 63 games, he only has one interception. As a four-year player at Florida, including three as a starter, he had six interceptions. Bob Sanders, the Packers' new defensive coordinator, was on the Gators' staff during Manuel's first four years in Gainesville.