The Packers' loss could be the Packers' gain.
First, the bad news: Valuable defensive lineman Colin Cole signed with the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday for five years and $21 million, according to NFL Network.
Now, the positive spin: With Cole in Seattle, the Seahawks no longer are in the chase for standout defensive end Chris Canty of Dallas. Cole's agent, Brad Blank, told Packer Report this afternoon that they've canceled a Sunday flight and Monday meetings with the Seahawks.
Seattle was about $20 million under the cap before naming linebacker Leroy Hill their franchise player. Throw in the signing of Cole, and the Seahawks have just enough money to sign their draft picks.
Canty, a 3-4 end who would be a bedrock of the revamped Packers' defense, entered free agency as the second-best defensive lineman on the market behind Albert Haynesworth. But Canty's free agent tour has taken one strange turn after another.
He had a deal worked out with Washington, only to watch the Redskins sign Haynesworth to a record-breaking contract and take themselves out of the running for Canty. Canty then arrived in New York on Saturday night, just in time to learn the Giants had signed defensive tackle Rocky Bernard away from the Seahawks for four years and $16 million. Now, Seattle is out of the running after signing Cole.
The Giants, who also signed linebacker Michael Boley to a five-year, $25 million deal with $12 million guaranteed and have a ton of money wrapped up in their defensive line with Bernard, Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck, remain in the running for Canty, though.
"In the case of the Giants, they have made him a very decent offer and we're working to make it a little better," said Blank, who interrupted this interview to take a call from Canty, who still was meeting with the Giants. "So, even though the Giants have signed a defensive lineman, they've offered Chris substantially more than what they signed the other guy for and they still lust after Chris."
Do the Packers have that same amount of lust, and are they willing to pay the price to get him? Based on his offer from Washington ($18 million in guarantees) and the contract Houston gave to ex-Cardinals defensive end Antonio Smith (five years, $35 million), the Packers probably are looking at five years, $40 million and somewhere in that $18 million range in guaranteed money.
The Packers certainly have the ability to do so. At about $30.5 million under the cap, they entered free agency with the fifth-most cap space in the league. While general manager Ted Thompson's free agency style frustrates some fans, Blank said he understands the Packers' approach.
"I"m telling them what's going on," Blank said when asked if he's discussed even the broad parameters of a contract with the Packers. "It's a weird situation because in fairness to the Packers, they haven't even met Chris. They haven't given him a physical. They can't really make the deal on the phone. We can discuss parameters and I can tell them what's going on in New York and they can say they'll be competitive, which is essentially where we're at."
Judging by the silence from other agents and league sources, Canty is the only upper-crust free agent who interests the Packers. That single-minded focus isn't a bad thing.
"To the Packers' credit, they haven't flown anyone in yet," Blank said. "They're sort of on vacation, if you will. But that's good for Chris. It's not like the Redskins, where they were hustling to get 10 guys in, and it's not like it was in Seattle, where they are hustling to get a guy in, and it's not like it was in New York, where they were hustling guys in. The Packers have been very laid back and sort of take a measured approach. They have perspective on others and they don't rush to do anything. Having said that, that's actually good for them and to their advantage, because if Chris comes, he'll be the first trip they've even entertained anyone on."
Blank said he does not have a meeting scheduled with the Packers, but suggested if Canty gets out of New York without a contract, the two sides could get together.
"The Packers, I'm still in touch with them," Blank said. "We're talking and it remains to be seen how things work out in New York, but there's a possibility he might wind up coming to Green Bay if things don't work out in New York. Then again, it's a possibility things might work out in New York. That's the best I can characterize it."
"It's all dependent on what happens in New York today," he added.
What do you think about free agency?
Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Lambeau Level forum.