Grant seeking a big deal

Training camp holdout a possibility for starting running back

Rare is the NFL player with only one year of playing experience who has some leverage in how much he is compensated. Packers halfback Ryan Grant is one of those unusual cases.

Having emerged the second half of last season as a prolific godsend for Green Bay's once-porous running attack, Grant apparently isn't willing to wait his turn in the pecking order of tenured privileges.

The Green Bay Press-Gazette reported March 18 that Grant reported for the start of the team's offseason workout program a day earlier, but will work out with his teammates on and off the field in the coming months without a contract.

Rather than settle for the minimum $370,000 salary he's entitled as an exclusive-rights free agent, Grant desires a more lucrative, long-term deal before training camp commences in late July. In lieu of that, a camp holdout would be a possibility.

Grant's agent, Alan Herman, however, expressed optimism that the two sides would reach an accord in time to avoid a potentially detrimental situation for the Packers.

"Nothing has begun in terms of the (negotiation) process," Herman told the Press-Gazette. "But listening to everything that's coming out of Green Bay in terms of the club taking care of their own, I'm optimistic, and that's why Ryan is there at this point. He's participating in the offseason program and we're looking forward to -- let me put it this way, it's the golden opportunity for the Packers and Ryan Grant to get together on something that will keep him there for the rest of his career."

Packers GM Ted Thompson made out like a bandit in sending a 2008 sixth-round draft pick to the New York Giants for Grant before the start of last season. Grant was an afterthought on Green Bay's depth chart at halfback, but a spate of injuries to similarly young players ahead of him thrust Grant into the lead role by midseason.

Grant responded with 929 rushing yards in the final 10 games of the regular season, second highest in the league behind the 947 accrued by San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson. Grant's encore was setting team records in the postseason with 201 yards and three touchdowns on the ground in Green Bay's NFC divisional-playoff win over Seattle.

Thompson, as is his policy on player contracts, didn't divulge to the Press-Gazette whether brokering a long-term contract with Grant is imminent.

"We like Ryan Grant a lot. I'm not going to speculate on something like that," Thompson said.

Thompson has begun tweaking his roster after being quiet for the first few weeks of free agency.

As expected, he bid adieu to cornerback Frank Walker, who didn't pan out as a free-agent signee last year. Walker signed a two-year deal with Baltimore.

The Packers, though, re-signed linebacker Tracy White, a key special-teams contributor. White spurned overtures from Pittsburgh and Denver to stay in Green Bay. He received a two-year, $1.8 million contract.

Green Bay made its first splash in free agency from outside the team when it signed former St. Louis linebacker Brandon Chillar to a two-year deal for $5.4 million. The pact also includes potential earnings of $1 million in incentives.

The Packers' quest to find a backup to new starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who takes over for a retired Brett Favre, has been a methodical process. Green Bay has entertained free agents Quinn Gray (Jacksonville) and Gus Frerotte (St. Louis) for visits, but signing a guy doesn't seem imminent.

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