Offensive lineman signs through 2008

The Green Bay Packers dodged another free agent bullet today when they announced a new contract for tackle Mark Tauscher that will keep him in Green Bay through 2008. They signed Donald Driver just two days before Tauscher, preventing both players from becoming unrestricted free agents following this season.<p>

"I'm very blessed to get this thing taken care of," said Tauscher. "I don't think it goes without saying that with an injury of mine, that an organization has enough trust and faith that I'm going to 'rehab' the way I need to... I'm really excited to be a part of this thing for a long time."

Tauscher was placed on season-ending injured reserve on Sept. 18 after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the second regular season game of the year against the Saints.

Tauscher has proven through his three years in the NFL to be one of the Packers most consistent and dependable offensive linemen. That was a major reason the Packers chose to re-sign him, even while he continues to rehabilitate his knee.

"There's a lot of work for me to get done yet," said Tauscher. "I know it's going to be a long road, but as far as things go, I plan to be ready to rock and roll once September comes next year."

Tauscher said he feels like he could play now and really feels the need to help the Packers' injured-depleted line, but because he was placed on injured reserve, he cannot return this year. For now, he is just happy he has a new contract and that the Packers' have placed the faith in him, banking on his return for next season.

Tauscher's six-year deal is worth about $17 million, according to reports. It is believed he received an initial signing bonus of $1.5 million, and can make another $2.5 million in roster bonuses and incentives when he returns next season.

Prior to re-signing Driver and Tauscher, the Packers were about $1 million under the cap. The prorated portions of their signing bonuses will consume most of that money against this year's salary cap.

"There's still a ton of risk factor for me," said Tauscher, who probably would have commanded a larger signing bonus had he not been injured. "I have to come back out and show I can play to earn the full value of the contract. The Packers took on some risk and for that I'm very grateful, and I'm giving up the chance to become a free agent. I think it's a fair deal on both accounts."

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