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Packers may save up to $3 million with new Favre deal

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Posted: Friday February 23, 2001 9:08 PM
Updated: Friday February 23, 2001 9:37 PM

  Brett Favre Brett Favre finished last season with 20 touchdown passes, his lowest total since the 1993 season. Matthew Stockman/Allsport

By Don Banks, Sports Illustrated

INDIANAPOLIS -- Green Bay head coach Mike Sherman said the Packers are in "the latter stages" of negotiating a contract extension with quarterback Brett Favre and should have the deal done in the next couple of days. The Packers are believed to be in line to save an estimated $2 to $3 million in salary cap room with the move.

"I think we're in good shape," Sherman said Friday. "There's nothing smooth when you're dealing with millions of dollars, but it's going along as expected and it's going to give us a little bit more flexibility to work. And it extends his contract so that he's a Packer for a long, long time. That's our goal."

As for another Packers offensive standout, Sherman said he has not given up hope of talking injury-prone running back Dorsey Levens into accepting a substantial pay cut. Levens will be released next week if he does not agree to do so.

"That's too strong at this point in time [to say Dorsey is resigned to being cut]," Sherman said. "I've always had a very strong feeling for Dorsey Levens and I'd love to have him on our team. I hope it can work out. When you dealing with money and pride and things like that, anything can happen. But we certainly want him to stay. It's whether he's willing to do it that way and [if] it's attractive to him."

Sherman has had a nice week already. Green Bay locked up its top two free-agent priorities in recent days, re-signing kicker Ryan Longwell and free safety Darren Sharper to long-term deals.

"Obviously if we get Brett's deal worked out, it'll be a nice sweep," Sherman said. "He's our top offensive player, and Sharper is our Pro Bowl player on defense. And then our best special teams player is Longwell."

Grbac, Chiefs may wind up parting ways

At least one league source close to the situation puts quarterback Elvis Grbac's chances of remaining with Kansas City past next week at no better than 50-50. Grbac is due a $10 million roster bonus March 17 and the Chiefs and he have been negotiating a restructured contract that would greatly ease Kansas City's 2001 cap responsibility. Grbac will be released next week if the two sides cannot come to terms.

If he lands on the open market, Seattle is believed to be very interested in pursuing Grbac and would likely be the first bidder.

On other free-agent quarterback fronts, don't discount Tampa Bay's chances of making an early effort in the bidding for former Washington starter Brad Johnson.

Despite indications that the Bucs will stick with Shaun King as their starter, head coach Tony Dungy is believed to still be intrigued with pursuing Johnson. Baltimore and San Diego remain the top two favorites in the race for Johnson, but some league insiders say Atlanta and Dallas could also be factors at some point.

Mornhinweg: We miss you Barry, Barry much

Teased on numerous occasions, nobody in Detroit wants to crank up the Barry Sanders watch again anytime soon. But new Lions head coach Marty Mornhinweg on Friday left open the slightest crack for the return of the running back.

Sanders, who retired before the 1999 season, would be welcome in the Detroit organization at any point, Mornhinweg said.

"Barry is a Detroit Lion in my eyes," Mornhinweg said. "And I think in most people's eyes. Always has been, probably always will. I personally would certainly love to have him associated with the Lions.

"Now, in what capacity? Some of that would be up to him. He has publicly stated on a couple of occasions that he is happy in retirement. If he would want to play, geez, as a coach I would love to have him do that. But what the odds are, I don't know. That's going to be up to Barry Sanders."

Will the Browns be knocking on Dillon's door?

Cleveland is believed to be one of the teams most interested in going after Cincinnati running back Corey Dillon, who was tagged as a tranisition player by the Bengals last week. The scenario makes sense. Dillon is the most talented running back on the market and the Browns are desperate for a running game.

But new Cleveland head coach Butch Davis went out of his way to say as little as possible about Dillon on Friday. Some within the league believe Davis isn't Dillon's biggest fan and would rather draft a running back in the first round.

Asked if Dillon fit into the Browns' plans, Davis said: "Potentially, he's a good player. I gotta go."

The Bengals have the right to match any offer to Dillon and retain him, but teams could make it tough to do so if they include either a no-trade clause or an option out of the deal after one season.

Asked if the Browns, who have cap room, were one of the few teams in position to ante up for Dillon at that cost, Davis equivocated again: "I don't know whether [he's worth it] or not. There are other teams that are clearly under the cap and there are some others who are not. Whether or not they covet him or another running back, I don't know."

Finally, a reporter found a way to ask Davis a safe question about what the Browns are looking for in a running back.

"Ideally we'd like the complete guy," Davis said. "We want somebody that you don't have to take out of the game. In a best-case scenario, you don't want to have to do it with a running back by committee if you don't have to."

Vikings getting nowhere with Griffith, Steussie talks

The cap-challenged Vikings are having little success in their attempts to gain some cap relief by restructuring the contracts of strong safety Robert Griffith and offensive tackle Todd Steussie.

While reports that the Vikings may be forced to release Griffith if they can't strike a cap-friendly deal are largely unfounded, Griffith's agent, Mitch Frankel, said Thursday that the two sides are nowhere near an agreement.

"We perceive Robert to be, if not the premier, then one of the two or three premier safetys in the league," Frankel said. "If they'd like to extend him and pay him at that value, that's fine. But we're not going to extend the deal just for the sake of their cap situation. Right now we're not close."

As has been previously reported, Steussie could be in some roster jeopardy if the Vikings and he can't agree on a restructured contract. Steussie is believed to be open to a small pay cut as part of the restructure, but is believed to be balking at the size of the cut that the Vikings want.

Frankel also said the Vikings on Thursday called him and asked if they could restructure receiver Cris Carter's contract for cap purposes. Frankel expects those talks to begin next week. Carter has cooperated with the Vikings many times in tight cap situations, and has never been asked to reduce his salary.

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