Pro Bowl halfback Dorsey Levens missed the entire offseason, but the only time he'll be a holdout now is when coach Mike Holmgren keeps him on the sideline.
Levens ended his six-week holdout Sunday by signing a one-year tender for $2.742 million, which allows him to report to the Green Bay Packers while the finishing touches are put on a five-year, $25 million package."My thoughts are he should have been here in May," general manager Ron Wolf said. "But I'm happy he's here now when we need him. I think what that does is that puts together the finest offensive unit in the NFC."
By signing him to the tender, Green Bay will be able to retain its franchise player designation and slap it on another player, such as wide receiver Antonio Freeman, who stood to cash in as a free agent after this season, providing a long-term deal with Levens is completed this season.
The Packers said Levens would report to the practice field Monday, but how much he will play in the season opener against Detroit won't be determined until the team sees how well-conditioned he is.
Although Travis Jervey or Raymont Harris will start, Levens could see significant playing time against the Lions.
"I don't expect him to gain over 200 yards, but I expect him to be effective," Wolf said.
Agent Hadley Engelhard has maintained his client is in tip-top shape, having worked out with a personal trainer and track coach in Atlanta during the protracted holdout.
The Packers planned an extra day of full-pads practice and also will put Levens through individual workouts in a crash-course preparation for the season.
Levens skipped all of the team's off-season workouts as Engelhard insisted his client would never play for the one-year tender.
As the Packers' franchise player, Levens was guaranteed the average salary of the top five players at his position last year. But that amount was rendered insufficient when other running backs cashed in on the NFL's infusion of broadcast revenue this offseason.
By showing up for work, Levens can collect $161,294 a week under the tender deal while Green Bay and Engelhard negotiate a five-year contract.
"I'm just glad he's signed right now. We can worry about all that stuff later," Wolf said.
Engelhard and Packers chief negotiator Mike Reinfeldt made significant progress after breaking through a stalemate about 10 days ago. Engelhard lowered his demands on a signing bonus and Green Bay increased its offer to a yearly average of $5 million, according to Engelhard.