Draft picks, Holliday among priorities

The table is set. Soon, Packers negotiatior Andrew Brandt will begin reaching contract agreements with the team's six draft picks. With plenty of salary cap room, look for the Packers to pursue a contract extension with veteran defensive end Vonnie Holliday as well.<p>

Green Bay has yet to sign any of its six draft picks. The Packers have been awarded $2.527 million by the NFL Management Council to sign their selections. The $2.527 million is included within the team's salary cap of $71.101 million for the 2002 season.

"I am talking to all of their agents," Brandt told a packers.com audience in a Tuesday chat session. "They know there is a limited amount of money for the rookies and I'm trying to get them to jump in before it's gone."

Javon Walker, taken 20th overall in the draft by the Packers, is expected to consume a large portion of the rookie cap. Through Wednesday, only two draft first-round picks from this year's draft have been signed by other teams. York Jets defensive end Bryan Thomas, taken with the 22nd pick, reportedly received a five-year deal worth $6.696 million, including a $1.1 million signing bonus (counting $1.04 million against this year's salary cap). Houston signed quarterback David Carr to a multi-year contract.

St. Louis Rams safety Adam Archuleta, taken with the 20th overall pick in the 2001 draft, signed a five-year contract worth $6.5 million, including a $2.985 million signing bonus.

Once players begin to sign this month, others quickly follow. Last year, Green Bay's first-round pick, Jamal Reynolds, did not sign until late July. So, agents and teams are staring each other down at this point.

"They (draft picks) are slotted, but it is hard to get agents and players to jump out in front of the marketplace," Brandt said. "That's what I'm dealing with now."

Besides Holliday, tackle Mark Tauscher, defensive tackle Cletidus Hunt, defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, wide receiver Donald Driver, and defensive back Tod McBride will become free agents after the 2002 season. Holliday and his agent were negotiating with the Packers earlier this spring, but broke off talks. Holliday is in the final year of a five-year, $5.568 million contract that he signed as a rookie in 1998.

According to reports, the Packers are about $5 million under this year's salary cap. The team got help from veteran safety LeRoy Butler who recently agreed to reduce his base salary from $2.25 million to $750,000.

Holliday, 26, had perhaps his best season last year with a career-high 81 tackles and seven sacks, is due to have a base salary of $696,000 and then become an unrestricted free agent.


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