Packers closer to signing their picks

Green Bay signs fourth-round draft pick Cory Rodgers, giving the team seven of 12 draft picks under contract. Oakland, meantime, signed No. 7 overall pick Michael Huff, which should help the Packers in negotiations with No. 5 overall pick A.J. Hawk.

During his state-of-the-team address at the shareholders meeting last week, Packers general manager Ted Thompson was optimistic the team would have all 12 draft choices signed by the time training camp kicks off on Friday. That goal became closer to fruition on Tuesday with the signing of fourth-round draft pick Cory Rodgers and the Oakland Raiders' signing of first-round pick Michael Huff.

Like the other picks signed by the Packers, Rodgers, a wide receiver and kick returner from Texas Christian, reportedly inked a four-year contract. Monetary figures were unavailable.

With Rodgers signed, seven of the Packers' picks are under contract.

One player who is not signed is linebacker A.J. Hawk, the Packers' first-round pick and fifth selection overall. The signing of Huff, however, should set some parameters for Packers chief negotiator Andrew Brandt to work with.

Huff, a former University of Texas standout, inked a five-year deal worth $22.5 million. Some $15 million of that money is guaranteed.

With the NFL salary cap rising from last year, it's no surprise Huff is making a sizable amount more than last year's seventh overall pick, Troy Williamson of Minnesota. Williamson inked a five-year deal worth $15.75 million, with $11 million guaranteed.

Based on that type of increase and the deal signed by last year's fifth pick, Carnell "Cadillac" Williams of Tampa Bay — five years, $19.1 million, including $13 million up front — the Packers are probably looking at a five-year deal for Hawk worth in excess of $22 million, with about $16 million being paid upfront.

The increase won't be as substantial as the one from Williamson to Huff because defensive back (Huff) is considered more of a premium position than wide receiver (Williamson), and running back (Williams) is considered more of a premium position than linebacker (Hawk).

Huff joins No. 1 overall pick Mario Williams of the Houston Texans and No. 13 pick Kamerion Wimbley of the Cleveland Browns as the only first-round picks signed.

Along with Hawk, the Packers' remaining unsigned picks are second-rounder Daryn Colledge (guard), third-rounders Abdul Hodge (linebacker) and Jason Spitz (guard) and fifth-rounder Ingle Martin (quarterback).

As for Rodgers, the Packers drafted him with the 104th overall selection. While they hope he eventually will be a threat in the passing game, he was selected primarily to jumpstart a languishing return game that garnered too few big plays with Antonio Chatman the past few seasons.

Rodgers ranked third in the nation in kickoff return average and scored two touchdowns last season, and ranked eighth in punt return average.

Rodgers made more news off the field than he did on it during the Packers' minicamps and organized team activities. He was arrested on May 26 for discharging a firearm outside a bar during a brawl near Fort Worth, Texas. He was sentenced to 15 months of probation, ordered to perform 80 hours of community service and fined $500, though his record will be cleaned if he fulfills his service obligations and stays out of trouble.

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


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