Ahman Green got what he wanted in free agency, hitting it big with the Houston Texans today. The former Packers running back agreed to a multiyear contract that will pay him more money than the Packers probably ever dreamed of paying him.
This is a win-win situation. Green gets a wonderful four-year, $23 million contract that reportedly will pay him more than $6.5 million in guaranteed money. The Packers get to select a running back high in the NFL draft, most likely California's Marshawn Lynch with the 16th overall pick.
The Texans believe that the 30-year-old Green still has a lot left in his tank. Maybe? Maybe not. When all is said and done, the Texans will look back and see that they overpaid for Green, who is coming off a quadriceps injury in 2005 and is entering the twilight of his NFL career. Whether he succeeds with the Texans, who had the 28th ranked offense in the league last year, remains to be seen. And remember, it's not like Green has been tearing it up lately for the Packers. He's averaged just 3.8 yards per carry over the past two seasons. But that's Gary Kubiak and ex-Packers coach Mike Sherman's problem.
Fortunately for the Packers, the 2007 season does not start today. If it did, the Packers would only have Vernand Morency, Noah Herron and P.J. Pope as running backs.
With Green out of the picture in Green Bay, the door has swung wide open for Lynch to take over as Green Bay's featured back. If all goes well for the Packers in the April 28-29 NFL draft, he will be available when the Packers are on the clock in the first round.
Lynch has all the tools to succeed in Green Bay's zone-blocking scheme, plus he'll have a whole career in front of him. There is no reason to think that the Packers will not improve their rushing attack behind a top collegiate running back behind an offensive line that jelled as the season progressed last season.
Heck, when Green sat out two games last season with hamstring injuries, Morency and Herron each stepped in with big games. Morency, who can still complement a back like Lynch in the same way he did Green, had 99 yards rushing against the Philadelphia Eagles. A week later, Herron rushed for 106 yards against the St. Louis Rams. What Morency and Herron proved in those two games is that experience at running back in Green Bay's offense is not everything. Instincts and ability is better, and the Packers will get that with Lynch.
Green, obviously, is a proven back. He is getting paid for what he has accomplished in the NFL, rushing for more than 1,000 yards in five of the last six seasons. He is a powerful runner, but the Packers should be able to find a back who can be just as good in the draft, and much younger. Right now it's looking like Lynch, who is every bit the 'football player' that general manager Ted Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy prefer to have on the team.
Even better, the Packers won't have to fork out more than $5 million a season to pay him. Green is gone, but all is not lost for the Packers.
Todd Korth is managing editor of PackerReport.com and Packer Report magazine. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.