Walker gets his big deal

Javon Walker got what he wanted. Again. Less than two weeks after getting the trade he desired, the former Green Bay Packers wide receiver reportedly is set to sign a five-year contract extension with the Denver Broncos. The deal is worth between $40 million and $42 million, Walker's agent, Kennard McGuire, told The Associated Press.

According to the Rocky Mountain News, the contract includes $15 million in option bonuses: $10 million in 2007 and $5 million in 2008.

The 27-year-old Walker, who is recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered in last year's season opener at Detroit, was entering the final year of his rookie contract. He was the Packers' first-round pick in 2002, and was due to make $1.15 million this coming season.

The new deal, which includes a $1 million roster bonus, runs through 2011.

"Wow. It was something I wasn't expecting," Walker told TV station KRIV in his hometown of Houston. "Now that it's true, it's going to make me work that much harder for all the reasons I did get the contract."

Packers general manager Ted Thompson landed a second-round pick - which he parlayed into five picks with a series of trades during the draft - for Walker.

Though Thompson called it "fair value" during his meeting with Wisconsin sports editors last week, that's not much return on investment for a former first-round pick and Pro Bowl talent. There's no guarantee Walker will return to his 2004 form, however, though he passed the Broncos' physical before the deal was made, and the team expects Walker will make a 100 percent recovery.

In fact, there are no clauses in Walker's contract to safeguard the team should the knee prevent him from getting anywhere close to expectations, McGuire told the Rocky Mountain News.

Walker will not participate in any of Denver's minicamps, but is hopeful he'll be ready for the start of training camp at the end of July.

"The target is to have him ready once we go to camp," Denver coach Mike Shanahan said during the draft. "He is still recovering from his ACL, and I don't want to push him along too quick. He went through all the physicals with our trainers and doctors and he should be ready to go full-speed by the time we start camp."

The Packers' on-again, off-again saga with Walker began last year. With two years left on his contract and with only 1 1/2 good seasons under his belt, Walker sought a new contract - even hiring controversial agent Drew Rosenhaus - after his breakout 2004 season, in which he caught 89 passes for 1,382 yards and 12 touchdowns to win Pro Bowl honors.

Walker threatened to hold out, and got into a bit of a verbal war of words with Brett Favre, but showed up on time at camp and didn't make any waves.

In March, however, Walker demanded - in strong terms - a trade.

"If I had to go back there, I'd retire," Walker told ESPN. "I don't have to play."

Thompson at the time said he had no intentions of caving in to Walker's demands: "I don't anticipate us making any concessions in this matter."

Meanwhile, the player rumored to have been part of a Walker-to-Denver deal in the days leading up to the trade actually happening, receiver Ashley Lelie, has hired new agents to negotiate his release from Denver.

Lelie, a former first-round pick, has been a big disappointment. With Walker and Rod Smith being Denver's top receivers, Lelie wants to make a fresh start. He's averaged 42 catches and three touchdowns in his four seasons.

Lawrence is a regular contributor to PackerReport.com. Send comments to steve_lawrence_packers@yahoo.com.

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