NFL free agent whispers: Vol. 6

Packer Report's Bill Huber puts a Packers slant on some hard-hitting free agent storylines. Today's edition starts with the possibility of Ahman Green returning to Green Bay.

When Ahman Green elected to follow Mike Sherman from Green Bay to Houston following the 2006 season, he departed one carry and 45 yards short of Jim Taylor's team records.

On Tuesday, the Texans released the 32-year-old Green, who spent two injury-ruined seasons with Houston and lost his job as the featured back to impressive rookie Steve Slaton.

Could the Packers, who could use a proven backup running back with good hands out of the backfield, be interested in bringing back Green for a one-year deal?

Yes, is what Packer Report hears. While there hasn't been anything resembling talks, there has at least been some internal discussion from both sides.

League-wide interest in Green almost certainly would wait until after the draft, and it probably would be no different in Green Bay.

In seven seasons with the Packers, Green rushed for 8,162 yards. That trails only Taylor's 8,207 yards in nine seasons. Green's biggest season came in 2003, when he obliterated Taylor's single-season record by more than 400 yards by rushing for 1,883 yards and 15 touchdowns.

Green played in just five games in 2005 because of a torn thigh tendon but bounced back to rush for 1,059 yards in 2006. When Sherman was fired as coach after the 2005 season, Green followed him to Houston with a four-year, $23 million deal. For the Texans' money, Green played in just 14 games and rushed for 554 yards and five touchdowns. Green, who sat out the final handful of games in 2008 with a sprained left knee, could have made $5.5 million in 2009.

Green's return to Green Bay would be more than just a feel-good story. In his six full seasons with the Packers, he averaged 54.7 receptions. But general manager Ted Thompson's roster-building methodology hasn't included adding past-their-prime players to his young roster.

"The news came down on Tuesday that the Texans made the decision to release me," Green said on his Web site, Ahman30.com. "I can't say I'm surprised. I kind of expected it, given the fact that I've been hurt so much the last two years. ... For me, I look at this as a new beginning. I'm working hard in Chicago getting my body right and eating right. I know I'm going to play this season. There are some teams interested in me, so we will see what comes along."

Suggs: Ravens have ‘first dibs'

Free agent outside linebacker Terrell Suggs told NFL Network on Wednesday that Baltimore has "first dibs" this offseason.

Suggs played under the franchise tag last season and could be headed for the same fate. The deadline to name franchise players is Feb. 19, and free agency begins on Feb. 27.

"I've really got faith in my agent and the Ravens that we'll get something done," Suggs said. "I love the city of Baltimore and I want to be a Raven. I'm hopeful."

For a 3-4 team such as the Packers, Suggs might be the most attractive free agent available this offseason. He is a three-time Pro Bowler as a 3-4 outside linebacker, including 2008, when he had eight sacks, nine passes defensed and two interceptions (both returned for touchdowns).

The Ravens have two other free agent linebackers: Ray Lewis and Bart Scott, both of whom play on the inside. The Ravens won't use the franchise tag on Lewis but have made re-signing him a priority, though Lewis has said he won't take a "hometown discount" to stay with the only NFL team he's played for. Dallas' Terrell Owens reportedly is trying to recruit Lewis to the Cowboys, who, like the Packers, have a major leadership void.

"I don't play less. If you don't play less, you don't take less," Lewis told NFL Network during the Pro Bowl.

Haynesworth to Tampa Bay?

Citing those in the know, the Tampa Tribune says the kingpin of this year's free agent class, Titans defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, could wind up in Tampa Bay.

The Buccaneers will be more than $40 million under the salary cap once free agency begins, making them one of the few teams who would handle Haynesworth's wish to be the highest-paid defensive player in the league with upwards of $35 million guaranteed.

"I want to be the top, not among the top,'' Haynesworth told reporters at the Pro Bowl last week. "That's how the market goes. They put you as the top free agent, so you got to demand top dollar. ... Hopefully, the Titans step up. If they don't, I'm looking." 

Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Lambeau Level forum.


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