NEIL CORNRICH & NC SPORTS: MANAGING THE CAREERS OF PROFESSIONALS IN THE SPORTS INDUSTRY

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Monday, March 26, 2007

Johnson's Contract Turning Heads





March 12, 2007

Tennessee general manager Mike Reinfeldt sits in Nashville with $26.5 million in cap room not burning a hole in his pocket. Green Bay GM Ted Thompson does the same with $21.8 million to spend in northeast Wisconsin. And through the mayhem of the first 10 days of free agency, the two guys who run the football side of those teams -- coincidentally, former roommates with the Houston Oilers -- are gritting their teeth, watching money get spent foolishly in some cases, and waiting for the market to simmer down.

Bully for them. I mean that, wholeheartedly. NFL teams entered the free agency market on March 2 with an average of $14.95 million per club to spend. As of Sunday evening, team spending had reduced that number to $10.80 million per franchise. Tennessee and Green Bay have the second- and fourth-most cap money left, but what makes them different is that, unlike their peers in the high-cap-money neighborhood, they haven't signed a sole free agent from another team since the market's been open.

The other day, the front-office mentor of both Reinfeldt and Thompson, former Packers GM Ron Wolf, was in Green Bay for the team's annual Fan Fest. Wolf, sitting in Thompson's office discussing the state of the game, playfully chided him for his inaction.

"I can't get him to do a deal!" Wolf told me. "I just want him to do something."

Then Wolf made it plain he wasn't serious. "This market's amazing," he said. "Al Johnson, what did he play last year? Seven plays? And he gets $7 million ... No, he didn't just play seven plays, but he didn't start."

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