Tender Moments: Mountains From Molehills

News about free agent tenders has been overblown because what happens now isn't the end of the story. Packer Report lends perspective on the news surrounding Johnny Jolly and Tramon Williams.

It's that time of year when the smallest news tends to get blown far out of proportion.

And so it goes with the restricted free agent tenders for Johnny Jolly, Tramon Williams and Atari Bigby and the Packers' decision to play hardball.

In Jolly's case, it's never a good idea to look a gift horse in the mouth, so he signed the offer before possibly seeing it slashed and burned. Despite his well-publicized legal troubles — leading to the possibility of an NFL suspension, at best, and prison time, at worst — the Packers tagged him with the first-round tender of $2.521 million.

From the Packers' standpoint, there was little harm in offering Jolly such a gaudy salary. He played with a ton of passion last season and helped the Packers rank No. 1 in the NFL in run defense. Since the tenders don't include any bonuses or guaranteed money, the Packers can cut their losses and be on the hook for exactly zero dollars if Jolly winds up in a heap of trouble in August. If he's allowed to play this season and he plays it under that tender, the Packers should have the same fire-in-his-belly Jolly, since he'll again be playing for the security of a lengthy contract and a nice bonus.

From Jolly's perspective, signing the tender was a no-brainer. In what other line of work can you get that kind of money despite the peripheral issues? It doesn't take a math major to figure out that $2.521 million is more than the $588,500 that Jolly might have made had he not signed the tender and the Packers pulled the trigger on the 110 percent option. And since there's little reason to believe the Packers will replace the tender with a long-term contract this year, Jolly needed to take what was on the table.

In Williams' case, it will be interesting to see whether the Packers slash his tender from $3.043 million to just $577,500.

On the surface, Williams' decision to not sign his tender seems foolish, but that's failing to look at the big picture.

Whatever tender Williams plays under this season, that might not be the last financial word, since the Packers and Williams can reach a long-term extension at any point. One source told Packer Report that's exactly what the two sides are doing, with the Packers using the threat of a slashed tender as a counter to Williams' obvious importance to a team with a glaring lack of healthy, proven cornerbacks.

Don't buy into any reporting that says cutting Williams' tender by almost five-sixths would tick off a valuable member of the team. Many of those same reporters said the Packers' treatment of Nick Collins last offseason was certain to send a Pro Bowl safety looking for a new team. Instead, the Packers locked him up with a long-term contract this offseason.

Don't forget, the Packers dealt fairly with Williams last season. He could have been forced to play under the exclusive rights free agent tender of $460,000 but was given $900,000 with a $375,000 signing bonus.

It's the middle of June. These things will sort themselves out. Whatever feelings are hurt today can be cured by money tomorrow.

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine 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 Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.

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