The Tampa Tribune's Ira Kaufman late Tuesday night reported a trade between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Green Bay Packers for Brett Favre is "likely to be finalized in the next 24 hours."
At 6:10 p.m. — 20 minutes before the start of the night practice — Favre remains on the roster.
Packers general manager Ted Thompson had a previously scheduled news conference set for 11:30 a.m. today, after the morning practice. There is no word on whether that will be held today. Presumably, Thompson is waiting to talk to the media until a trade is complete.
Favre, talking to the Hattiesburg (Miss.) American, echoed what coach Mike McCarthy said on Tuesday. He simply could not let go of all that has been said and done the past month. His love of the Packers, however, also played a role in a mutual parting of the ways.
"They obviously had taken the stance that at some point in the offseason that they were going to move on, and that's OK," Favre told the American. "But they sort of changed that stance a little bit when I got back up there. We sort of figured that would happen. Otherwise, they would have released me. They didn't want to do that, which I don't blame them, but, you know, I really didn't see, as much history as I've had in Green Bay and success, I really didn't see the positives that could come out of it. I felt like it was always going to be a distraction. It's best that they had a clear cut path that they were going to go on. And if I'm going to play, try to play elsewhere, and see what happens."
With the Favre saga appearing near a conclusion, the morning practice was conducted at a brisk pace. The pro-Favre protesters were either absent or silent, and the post-practice media session with McCarthy focused mostly on football.
"The players want a resolution. They want what everybody wants," McCarthy said on Wednesday. "To come out here every day and talk about somebody who's not here, it's gone on too long. And understandably so, they want to play football, they want to be recognized for playing football."
If a deal is finalized today, it would be exactly five months from the date of Favre's tear-filled retirement news conference.
The New York Jets and Buccaneers are the only teams known to be given permission by the Packers to talk to Favre and agent Bus Cook. Favre and Cook had refused to talk to the Bucs. Until Tuesday, when Favre — no doubt after being told in no uncertain terms the Packers would never let him play for Minnesota — told the Bucs he would not stand in the way of a deal.
Bucs starting quarterback Jeff Garcia, who presumably would play second-fiddle to Favre, on Wednesday afternoon called himself "dead man walking" while walking past reporters.
Kaufman called chances of the trade falling apart "remote," though the Jets reportedly have increased their offer. Thompson did not attend the morning workout; perhaps he was working the phones between those clubs.
"As far as I know, we've talked to Tampa and the Jets," Favre told the Hattiesburg paper. "I don't think anything has changed, at least considering those guys. We'll see what happens."
"Brett's ready to go play," Cook told the Jackson (Miss.) Clarion-Ledger late Wednesday morning. "It looks like it's going to be New York or Tampa Bay. We're waiting to find out and we could learn in the next hour or so."
Bucs coach Jon Gruden dodged questions about Favre on Wednesday.
"I have a lot of respect for the situation," he said. "I'm going to be very reluctant to say much. I don't want to have to repeat myself tomorrow and change my story." McCarthy on Tuesday wouldn't touch the subject of a trade, though he said Favre "wants to play." McCarthy admitted that all offseason, he "never" thought Favre would play this season.
"I told him that through the whole process, I did not think he was going to play this year," he said during the big Tuesday news conference. "Just listening to all the conversation, the number of things that have happened between March all the way to this point, and that was one of the things, I said, ‘Prove me wrong. Tell me I'm wrong, that you're playing for all the right reasons.'
"I thought his decision to play was emotional. He told me that was not the case, and I respect that. I told him over and over again, I would like to be wrong, but I never thought through this whole process that he was going to play this year, and if I'm wrong, then I'm wrong."
The Tampa Tribune report did not say what the Packers would get in return. The Bucs have four veteran quarterbacks — starter Jeff Garcia, Luke McCown, Brian Griese and Chris Simms — who could be of interest to Green Bay, which has three quarterbacks with a combined zero NFL starts. The agent for Griese, Ralph Cindrich, told the Tribune that he believed Griese would remain in Tampa Bay in any trade for Favre.
The trade came together quickly. Only 10 hours before Kaufman's report, his colleague, Roy Cummings, said the Bucs were "cool" toward Favre.
Wrote Cummings: "What would make Favre a necessity? Well, Jeff Garcia suffering a long-term injury would constitute a necessity. But then you have the issue of Favre's $12 million contract. Quite simply, the Bucs don't want to pay it. That's why little has changed from the Bucs perspective on this.
"So, they'll continue to field calls from the Packers and they'll continue to discuss a trade for Favre internally. But they won't make a move on this front until they absolutely have to. And even then, they will probably seek other alternatives to the problem before striking a deal for Favre.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, the Buccaneers are more than $20 million under the salary cap, so they have plenty of space to handle Favre's $12 million salary.
The Packers play the Buccaneers in Week 4 at Tampa.
"He's seen us, and as a defense, we've seen him as a quarterback," cornerback Charles Woodson said. "Our focus to go down there would be to get after him. It would be much different seeing him in a different uniform."
Bill Huber writes for Packer Report. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org