A diamond in the rough?

Walker gets his chance to rejuvenate career with Packers

While Chief Executive Officer Bob Harlan continues to get bombarded by calls from Packers fans pleading for or against the team trading for disgruntled wide receiver Randy Moss, Green Bay made its first free agent signing of the off-season today by inking backup cornerback Frank Walker to a one-year contract.

The news of Walker's signing will never overshadow the talk of Moss, but it will create competition for better depth behind starters Al Harris and Charles Woodson this off-season.

The feeling from this perch near Lambeau Field is that the Packers are concerned about Will Blackmon, the second of two fourth-round selections by Green Bay last season in the NFL draft. Blackmon was slowed by a broken bone in his foot, which occurred last May, and missed all of training camp. He aggravated the injury in an attempt to come back in early September, which set him back. When he did return to action, Blackmon injured his ribs midway through the season and was placed on season-ending injured reserve.

Walker was selected by the Giants in the sixth round of the 2003 NFL draft. He has always been a backup in New York, and fell into coach Tom Coughlin's dog house last season for apparently being overagressive. For most of the season, he was buried on the Giants' depth chart behind starters Sam Madison and R.W. McQuarters. Now Walker is hoping to revive his career in Green Bay.

"Frank is a great guy. He's got a great personality," said Walker's agent, Harold Lewis. "He's very aggressive, and I guess they (the Giants) like more of a laid-back kind of atmosphere from a corner. Frank, as you will find out, is the furthest thing from passive."

Said Ken Palmer of The Giants Insider of Walker, "He's got plenty of talent, but isn't one to necessarily play within the scheme. Takes too many chances, although he had a great camp last summer to surprisingly make the team ... great locker room guy that his teammates love.

"He does have good speed and hands ... just still too raw for someone that's been around this long."

Walker played in 10 games for the Giants last season and finished with nine tackles, no interceptions and no sacks. He has five career interceptions and 53 total tackles.

Walker met with New Orleans over the weekend, then had a "tremendous workout" with the Packers on Monday, according to Lewis. Both sides negotiated into the wee hours of today. Walker was literally on a plane headed to Seattle to meet with the Seahawks when the Packers phoned with an offer that the cornerback couldn't refuse.

Walker's one-year deal includes a signing bonus, but it also has built-in incentives and other bonuses, Lewis said.

The Packers, a reported $21.8 million under the salary cap, have little to lose. Walker has a chance to prove to Green Bay that he never got a decent opportunity in New York. And the Packers are not on the hook long-term if Walker doesn't live up to expectations. If he does, all the better for the Packers' secondary.

"When you talk about a corner being aggressive on a ‘man' and on a ‘bump,' you're not going to find anybody better," Lewis said. "When you talk about a guy who will come up and just hit you like a safety, we've got enough fines to prove that one. He has no problem hitting somebody, that's for sure."

Walker was fined by the league for a late sideline hit on Tennessee quarterback Vince Young last Nov. 28.

It's possible that a change of scenery will do Walker good. If so, the Packers will have better depth in their secondary from a player who is eager to make the most of his opportunity.

Todd Korth

Todd Korth is managing editor of PackerReport.com and Packer Report magazine. E-mail him at packrepted@aol.com.

Packer Report Top Stories