Specifics of Donald Driver’s renegotiated contract are not available, with Driver saying only that he’ll “retire as a Packer” and is a “Packer for life.”
Still, there are no guarantees Driver will be on the Week 1 roster, though the odds of him lining up against the San Francisco 49ers clearly have improved with a revamped deal. Agent Jordan Woy told Packer Report that Driver signed the deal on Wednesday, though he wouldn't disclose specifics of the deal beyond that it's for 2012 only. National Football Post's Andrew Brandt, the former Packers capologist, said Driver's deal is worth $2.5 million, including an "up front amount of $500,000."
"They can do whatever they feel like they have to do,” Driver said after Wednesday’s organized team activity, a practice in which he was used sparingly upon his first football-specific work since the playoff loss to the Giants four-and-a-half months ago. “I can't control that part of it. I knew I was in great shape, I knew I was ready to still play football. Like I said, both sides came to an agreement, said ‘Hey, let's get this done, we want you to be a Packer,’ I wanted to be a Packer, I wanted to play here, I didn't want to play anywhere else, and we made it work."
With a salary cap figure of $5 million, it’s hard to say how much “we” was involved in Driver’s renegotiation. Outside of the public relations hit the team would have received for releasing a player who was immensely popular even before winning “Dancing with the Stars,” the Packers probably would have felt OK from a football perspective had they parted ways with the team’s all-time leader in receptions and receiving yards. Receiver, after all, is the deepest position on the team.
“I don't think that's going to happen. I just don't think it's going to happen,” Driver said when asked if he was signed as an insurance policy and could be released if the receiver group emerges healthy and productive coming out of training camp. “I think I meant more to this organization than anything, and the organization meant so much to me. So, I don't think we're ever going to get into a bitter relationship. I don't think they want that, I don't want that. So, I don't think it'll ever happen. I think it'll be two sides coming together like we did, and I'm going to retire as a Packer.”
The 37-year-old Driver is confident he has at least another year in him. Driver, who ranks third among active NFL receivers with 735 receptions fourth with 10,060 yards, knows the days of him catching 70 passes for 1,000 yards are gone, but he’s content playing a role on one of the league’s elite teams.
“I think at the end of the day, I can still play at a high level,” he said. “I don't think I've proven that I can't. No one's (said) that he can't do this no more. I've done it, week in and week out. Now, balls getting thrown to me? I can't control that. Back in the days, I used to be the guy. I had three guys on me, the ball was getting thrown to me anyway. It's not like that any more. You don't have to be the guy to win games, and I think we realized that last year. And at first, yeah, it was tough. It was tough for everybody. Guys wanted the ball, guys want this, because these are younger players that want it. Once you get older, you're like, I don't have to have 80 catches. I don't have to have that. I don't have to have 1,000 yards, as long as I'm productive, I'm still playing at a high level. I've proven that."
Agree or disagree?: Discuss hot Packers topics in our, free forums. Leave Bill a question in the subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum.
Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.