Corey Williams, whom many felt would leave the Packers via free agency this season, was named as the team's franchise player today. The Packers also parted ways with veteran tight end Bubba Franks in a cost-cutting move.
Williams was scheduled to become a free agent on Feb. 29, but the Packers essentially took him off the market by making a one-year contract tender offer at the defensive tackle franchise number set by the NFL. It is believed that number is $6.4 million for a defensive tackle, the average of the top five highest paid players at that position in 2007. The Packers maintain a right of first refusal to match any team’s offer received by Williams. If Williams signs an offer sheet with another team and the Packers decline to match, the Packers will receive two first round draft picks this year.
By placing the franchise tag on Williams, the Packers also buy more time, till mid-July, to negotiate a long-term deal with Williams, who is entering his fifth season in Green Bay.
Williams played in all 16 regular season games and both playoff games. He had nine starts in the regular season, setting career highs with 51 tackles (32 solo). He tied his career high with seven sacks. He also started both playoff games.
"Corey is a good young football player and has been a consistent performer for our team," said Packers general manager Ted Thompson.
If Williams would have been allowed to depart through free agency, he probably would have commanded a deal similar to the one that Detroit's Cory Redding received last season - 7 years, $49 million.
Franks, selected in the first round of the 2000 NFL draft by Green Bay, likely was released in a a salary cap move. He was due a base salary of $3 million for 2008 and his production has dropped in recent seasons.
Franks, however, finished his Green Bay career as one of the most productive tight ends in franchise history. He played in 114 games for the Packers and made 94 starts. Franks had a total of 256 catches and 2,300 career receiving yards. His 32 touchdown receptions are tied for 10th on the franchise’s all-time list.
"We thank Bubba for everything he has given to our franchise," said Thompson. "He was a productive player on the field, a good teammate in the locker room and a fine representative of the Packers in the Green Bay community."