Packers remain in Canty chase

After being left out in the cold by Washington, it appears the same thing has happened in New York with the Giants. That's good news for the Packers, who now have a better idea of what kind of money the defensive end is seeking.

If defensive end Chris Canty weren't about to get $40 million, you'd feel sorry for him.

Canty had scheduled a flight to Washington, D.C., on Friday to sign a contract with the Redskins, only for them to throw $100-plus million at Albert Haynesworth, instead.

On Saturday night, Canty arrived in New York to wine and dine on Sunday with the Giants, who wanted Canty to play defensive tackle. But the Giants on Saturday night signed defensive tackle Rocky Bernard away from Seattle.

And just like that, two of the top suitors for the one big-name free agent Packers general manager Ted Thompson has targeted are probably out of the running.

The parameters of Canty's contract should be clear to Thompson, should he be serious about signing the defensive end as a lynchpin of his new 3-4 defense. According to reports, the 26-year-old Canty had $18 million in guarantees on the table from the Redskins. And on Saturday, Houston signed end Antonio Smith away from Arizona for five years and $35 million, with $12.5 million guaranteed. Canty probably would be seeking somewhere between $35 million and $40 million over that timeframe.

Newsday's Tom Rock says the Giants remain interested in Canty, but after signing Bernard, it's hard to imagine them making a serious run at the Cowboys' defensive end. The Giants already have ends Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora under contract for a combined average of about $13 million per season. Bernard's contract, while undisclosed, would probably push that figure to $20 million. Plus, they just handed linebacker Michael Boley a $25 million contract, including $11 million guaranteed, so they're running out of cap space.

Up next on Canty's free-agent tour is Seattle, which, like the Giants, plays a 4-3 defense. When Packer Report talked to Canty's agent, Brad Blank, on Friday, Blank said the lure of coming to Green Bay would be to be a bedrock to the Packers' new 3-4 defense. Then again, money usually talks in these instances, and for an extra few million, Canty probably wouldn't mind being a 4-3 tackle in Seattle or Tennessee, which must replace Haynesworth.

San Francisco, which is running a 3-4, has expressed interest in Canty, as well.

Seattle has its talons in another player of interest to the Packers, and that's defensive tackle Colin Cole. Obviously, the Seahawks would like to sign Cole to plug into Bernard's spot. Seattle also is interested in receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh, and the Seahawks aren't nearly far enough below the cap to sign all three.

Cole would be a vital cog in Green Bay because he could play nose tackle and end, and the Packers are woefully thin at all three defensive line positions.

Cole's agent, Neil Cornrich, did not respond to an e-mail.

The Packers, a source told Packer Report, entered free agency $37 million below the cap. After signing their restricted free agents to tenders on Friday, that figure was reduced to about $31.5 million. That was the fifth-highest figure in the league. After Denver's shopping spree, the Packers probably have the fourth-most cap space, though Thompson no doubt has an eye on using some of that money to sign players like Greg Jennings, Nick Collins and Aaron Kampman to extensions.

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Lambeau Level forum.

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