Packers focus on Gbaja-Biamila

If the Packers covet Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila as much as he gives effort on the field, April 17 cannot come soon enough.<p>

That is the deadline for teams to sign restricted free agents to offer sheets. Gbaja-Biamila could be one of those players who draws interest from other teams.

Though his agent, Bruce Tollner, was unavailable for comment on Wednesday, Gbaja-Biamila is reportedly receiving interest from at least one team. The Philadelphia Eagles, who face a good chance at losing free agent defensive end Hugh Douglas, could make an offer to Gbaja-Biamila that the Packers would have a hard time matching.

The Packers released Nate Wayne this week and restructured Darren Sharper's roster bonus to free up some salary cap space that might be used to work on a long-term deal for Gbaja-Biamila. The fourth year defensive end out of San Diego State started 11 games in 2002, showing that he can give full effort as an every-down player. He has developed into one of the NFL's top pass rushers with 25.5 sacks over the last two years.

Should the Eagles or any other team sign Gbaja-Biamila, who is in line for a large raise from his $375,000 salary of a year ago, the Packers would receive a first-round pick based on their restricted free agent tender of $1.3 million to the defensive end. The Eagles have the 30th overall pick in the first round, just behind the Packers.

Gbaja-Biamila is in position to command a deal that averages about $6 million to $7 million a season, including a signing bonus of around $7 million to $8 million. The Eagles, about $12 million under the salary cap, can afford to offer that kind of money to Gbaja-Biamila. The Packers cannot. Last September, defensive end Michael Strahan received a 7-year, $46 million deal from the New York Giants with $20.9 million in guaranteed money.

Gbaja-Biamila has stated his intention to stay in Green Bay, and the Packers may be trying to get him under contract before anyone else can offer him big dollars.

Starter Vonnie Holliday faces an uncertain return to the Packers which leaves a void at defensive end. The Packers other starter at end, Joe Johnson, is coming off a major triceps injury from a year ago. The Packers gave Johnson a six-year, $36 million deal last April, including a $4.5 million signing bonus.

Packer Report Top Stories