Holliday reports for first practice

Vonnie Holliday was a little late for the Green Bay Packers first full-squad practice this morning, but he had a pretty good excuse. He was meeting with head coach and general manager Mike Sherman, who also arrived to Clarke Hinkle Field a little late.<p>

But as they say: Better late than never.

Apparently, that's how Holliday sees it. The defensive end did not report to training camp Thursday and did not arrive in Green Bay until Friday evening. After undergoing a mandatory physical Saturday morning and strength conditioning tests, Sherman opted to hold Holliday out of the team's morning practice.

Holliday and his agent have been seeking a contract extension. The Packers' first round draft pick in 1998, Holliday signed a five-year, $5.57 million deal in June of his rookie season. His agent, Neil Schwartz, had a verbal agreement that the final year of the deal would be renegotiated if Holliday played well.

Holliday, 26, had perhaps his best season last year with a career-high 81 tackles and seven sacks. He is due to have a base salary of $696,000 and then become an unrestricted free agent after the 2002 season. He received a $1 million bonus on March 15 as part of his original contract. The Packers could have re-signed Holliday to an extension prior to March 15 to avoid paying the bonus, but would have had to pay him a much larger signing bonus.

The Packers are about $2 million under their salary cap, according to vice president of player finance Andrew Brandt. But Brandt says that the Packers would like to enter the 2002 regular season about $1 million under the cap as insurance against injuries and signing additional players.

Schwartz has declined how much money Holliday is seeking in an extension, but it could be in the neighborhood of the deal that the Pittsburgh Steelers gave Aaron Smith this week – five years, $24 million, including a $5.5 million signing bonus. The Packers signed veteran defensive end Joe Johnson to a six-year, $33 million deal on March 26. It included a $4.75 million signing bonus.

"Vonnie's a good guy, make no mistake about that," said Sherman. "We're excited to have him here on the practice field with our football team, as I'm sure his teammates are as well."

Sherman said he would like to agree to an extension with Holliday as soon as possible. He doesn't anticipate that Holliday will sit out later in training camp if nothing gets done.

"We talked about all the scenarios this morning and went through a bunch of different things," Sherman said.

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