I know, I know, Favre has said many times that he'll never play for another team, but I'm not buying it. He said last week that he still loves to play the game and feels physically prepared to play. He's keeping himself in shape, according to Packers coach Mike McCarthy, who recently met in person with him, and his competitive fire is burning as strong as ever. I am buying that.
Favre's hesitation on committing to the Packers boils down to the offense. Obviously, at this point of the off-season, he doesn't feel like the Packers have done enough to improve the offense, especially to the line in front of him. Can you blame him? Center Mike Flanagan split for the Texans, leaving the tackles - Mark Tauscher and Chad Clifton - as the only reliable veteran linemen. Scott Wells, entering his third season, has the inside track on starting at center, but is no Flanagan. The guard positions? Who knows at this point, but those slots probably will be filled by younger, or inexperienced players. Looks like Kevin Barry, who hasn't played guard since college, or Will Whitticker has the inside track on the right side. Junius Coston, who didn't play a down last year, probably is the favorite at left guard, or a rookie draft pick. It's not like the interior of the line is going to be as reliable as Aaron Taylor, Frank Winters and Adam Timmerman.
Need another reason for Favre's hesitation?
Javon Walker has vowed never to play again for Green Bay. And, in fact, the Packers are open to dealing him for draft picks, so general manager Ted Thompson appears more content to get a few picks for the disgruntled receiver than force him to play out his contract. The Packers re-signed Rod Gardner, who was released by Carolina last December, and signed a free agent by the name of Marc Boerigter, who blew out his knee in 2004. Whoopee!
If you're in Favre's shoes, would you be thrilled to line up behind the offensive line at this point? And a receiving corp that drops off quickly in talent after Donald Driver? Didn't think so.
Right now, the Packers and Favre are waiting for each other to blink. The Packers attempted again to force Favre's hand by imposing a so-called deadline for his $3 million roster bonus on April 1, but Favre wasn't fooled. As Favre's agent said, that deadline means nothing unless his client suits up for the season opener. For that to happen, the Packers had better stock up with some reliable veteran linemen and receivers, but that's not about to happen, either.
A very good indication on whether Favre plans to return in 2006 will come in May when Green Bay's mini-camps begin. If Favre is a no show, don't expect him to be on the team when training camp opens, either.
Favre is the ultimate competitior. It's obvious that he wants to play more football, but not with a team that is rebuilding, like the Packers. As a competitor, it sure seems like he doesn't want to give in to the team's true desires.
Why don't the Packers just release Favre? Probably because they don't want to look like the villian who forced him to leave the organization. So, it certainly appears that the organization is taking a different route by doing as little as possible in free agency, at least on offense, to load up for 2006, with the door wide open for Favre to exit "on his own terms."
Favre has said many times in his career, even at the height of his Hall of Fame career, that everyone is expendable, even himself. Well, he's being shown the door in a roundabout way by the Packers, though, he still wants to play.
And, yes, I know. The Packers say they want Favre back. But do they really want him back, or is this lip service for their fan base? To me, it's nothing more than lip service.
Also, the longer Favre's indecision lingers on, the more and more fans will actually want Favre to retire, or move on. There are indications already of fans upset with Favre throughout the Internet in chat rooms, polls and letters to the editor. This also plays in favor of the Packers.
The Packers are moving on without Favre. McCarthy has said as much. If a top-rated quarterback, like Vince Young is available in the upcoming draft, expect Thompson to take him to fill the major void left by Favre.
"Anything as far as preparation of our team, particularly on the offensive side of the ball, will not be affected by this decision," McCarthy said Friday.
At this point, I predict that Favre will retire for fear of his life behind a line that will have a new look and a weak receiving corp. However, if he does retire, I say he returns in a year, or even early in the season with another team. That way the Packers don't look like the team that forced him to leave, or released him. And Favre gets an opportunity to be on a team that has a legitimate chance of going deep into the playoffs this year.
Todd Korth is managing editor of PackerReport.com and Packer Report. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.