Here are a few observations from Fan Fest:
Barnett hopeful of new deal
Linebacker Nick Barnett said on Friday night that his agent, Chuck Price, and the Packers are in the midst of negotiating a new contract. Though, Barnett had no news to report, he told fans, while being interviewed by former Packers center Larry McCarran, that the two sides may be close to a contract extension agreement.
"They are working and talking, so hopefully we'll get something done," said Barnett.
The linebacker will attend the team's off-season workout program, which begins March 19 in Green Bay, and does not plan to hold out this season, if he and the Packers are unable to get a deal completed. Barnett is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in 2008.
Barnett signed off on a six-year contract as the team's top draft pick in 2003, though, the deal was really for five years and worth $6 million because the final year was voided based on his playing time. It included a $3.21 million signing bonus, which is prorated over the life of the contract. Barnett had a base salary of $651,000 in 2006 and is scheduled to receive a base salary of $741,000 in 2007.
The linebacker is optimistic about the team's defense this season, which went from the bottom of the league rankings to 12th overall by year's end.
"We started the year off with a lot of young guys in new positions," Barnett said. "The defense is fairly young. As we progressed through the year, we started to get smarter and started to know the defense more. The coaches stayed on us and we progressively got better each week. That's a great tribute to the coaches and players we have."
Dorsey on Thompson
Packers Director of College Scouting John Dorsey gave an interesting 25-minute presentation to fans on the team's scouting department and how it prepares for the annual NFL draft. Following Dorsey's presentation, he answered questions from fans. Here are a few of his responses to questions:
On how he compares Ted Thompson's philosophy on accumulating talent to other Packers general managers that he worked with, like Ron Wolf and Mike Sherman:
"Ron Wolf wanted to accumulate draft picks. He wanted to build through the draft and periodically go through free agency. Mike Sherman felt that you could kind of move up at times and give away draft picks. Ted Thompson is from the school of Ron Wolf, so he's philosophically going to take that same approach."
On the type of player the Packers want on the team:
"Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy have stressed character as one of the backbones of this foundation. We will not take a player unless we believe he has high character and football is truly important to him. This process is too short not to take high character guys where football is very important."
His thoughts on University of Wisconsin tackle Joe Thomas and the fact that he has short arms for an offensive lineman:
"That means if he's at 16 and available, we're going to draft him. I had to evaluate Joe Thomas last year, and I graded him higher than D'Brickashaw Ferguson, who was taken by the (New York) Jets with the second pick (actually, the fourth overall selection) last year. I think Joe Thomas is a helluva football player."
Starr's thoughts on Favre
Bart Starr played 16 seasons with the Green Bay Packers before retiring in 1971. He is as excited as anyone that Brett Favre is returning to the Packers for a 16th season, and 17th overall in his career.
"I was very pleased he's coming back because, like everyone else here, I'm thrilled with the way the team is going, especially the latter portion of last season," Starr said. "Knowing his drive and enthusiasm, I was just very, very pleased when he decided to come back. I'm going to be rooting hard because I think a lot of good things are going to happen."
Running back Ahman Green and fullback William Henderson were on the list for players' appearances for the third annual Packers Fan Fest. After what transpired earlier in the week, however, they did not attend the March 9 and 10 gathering.
Green signed a multiyear contract with the Houston Texans, and the 36-year-old Henderson was released by the team.