Packers' Efforts to Trade Favre Gain Momentum
Saturday, July 26, 2008
The Green Bay Packers accelerated their efforts to trade Brett Favre, perhaps to either the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or New York Jets, after being told by the quarterback in recent days he intended to report to training camp this weekend, sources familiar with the discussions said yesterday.
The Packers seem intent on avoiding the uncomfortable situation of having Favre back on their roster along with Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers is the young quarterback designated by club officials to replace Favre as the team's starter after Favre tearfully announced his retirement in March.
"Look for a trade," said one source familiar with the deliberations, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the Packers' dealings with Favre and their trade talks with other teams. "Him saying that he'll report to their camp puts a lot of pressure on them."
The Packers are scheduled to report to training camp tomorrow in De Pere, Wis., and practice Monday morning. Favre, who has indicated in recent weeks he wants to play this season, had a conversation with Packers General Manager Ted Thompson in which he informed Thompson he would report to camp, sources said.
The Packers, according to sources, are willing to permit either the Buccaneers or Jets to speak to Favre. That's a necessary step because Favre remains under contract to the Packers, and any unauthorized contact he might have with other teams would violate league rules.
A Packers spokesman said the team had no comment, and Favre's agent, Bus Cook, did not respond to a message.
The Buccaneers have been viewed within league circles as the favorite to land Favre because Coach Jon Gruden is a former Packers assistant who runs a version of the West Coast offense similar to that in Green Bay. Buccaneers General Manager Bruce Allen reportedly asked one of his club's quarterbacks, Chris Simms, how Simms thought Favre would adapt to playing in Tampa with limited practice time.
The Jets were a somewhat surprising entrant into the bidding for Favre, who will turn 39 in October and has played for the Packers for 16 seasons after one season with Atlanta.
Jets Coach Eric Mangini had expressed satisfaction with having Kellen Clemens and Chad Pennington compete for his team's starting job. But the Jets made some big free agent moves in the offseason by signing guard Alan Faneca to a five-year, $40 million contract and linebacker Calvin Pace to a six-year, $42 million deal. Attempting to add Favre might be part of a bid to ascend quickly to contender status.
Mangini declined to comment on the Jets' involvement in the Favre chase when asked about it yesterday at their training camp.
"As I said, I'm happy with the quarterbacks we have, and we look at a lot of different scenarios every night," Mangini said. "And trust me when I tell you that we look into a lot of different scenarios every night. It's just normal operating procedure for us."
It's not clear whether Favre would agree to play for either team. Favre essentially could block any proposed trade by refusing to come out of retirement if he is dealt to a club for which he doesn't want to play.
The Packers probably would prefer to trade him to the Jets because the teams play in different conferences. The Jets aren't on the Packers' schedule this season. The Packers face the Buccaneers this season, and the Buccaneers potentially could prevent the Packers from reaching the Super Bowl.
Any team that trades for Favre would inherit his contract, which calls for him to receive a salary of $12 million this season. But Favre could agree to rework the deal and lower that figure.
Favre has asked the Packers to release him, but they seem adamant they won't do that, fearing he might sign with the division rival Minnesota Vikings or Chicago Bears. The Packers have filed tampering charges against the Vikings, alleging improper contact with Favre.
Favre has not asked for his official reinstatement from the league, a requirement in order to report to camp, but NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has made it clear to Favre and the Packers that Favre will be reinstated when he asks.
According to a source, Goodell has stressed to the Packers they cannot prevent Favre from playing. Under league rules, if Favre wants to play, the Packers must either reinstate him to their roster or trade or release him. Packers officials have said they're committed to Rodgers as their starter, and Favre would have to serve as a backup. Favre previously indicated that was unacceptable to him.