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Wednesday, February 24, 2010
What's next for Packers and Pickett?

By Kevin Seifert

Green Bay nose tackle Ryan Pickett won’t be a free agent when the market opens next week. That’s the upshot of Wednesday’s announcement that the team has placed its franchise tag on him. At this point, any other conclusion would be premature.

Ryan Pickett
After franchising Ryan Pickett, the Packers have several options to consider.
If nothing more happens, Pickett will play the 2010 season under a one-year contract worth $7.003 million. It’s fully guaranteed the moment he signs it.

That’s an awfully high number for someone who is essentially a part-time player, not to mention one who plays the same position as the Packers’ 2009 first-round draft choice. But as we discussed Tuesday, the Packers have several options here.

There are some merits to keeping Pickett on the roster. In a statement Wednesday, general manager Ted Thompson said Pickett “has been a good teammate and productive player for us on the field and also a good representative of the Packers in the community.” Pickett also provides some insurance in the event that defensive lineman Johnny Jolly is suspended in connection with an upcoming trial for felony drug possession.

And frankly, using the franchise tag in an uncapped environment carries less risk than it used to. With a salary cap, the entire franchise figure counted toward that season’s cap with no ability to pro-rate. In an uncapped scenario, there is no penalty for paying a part-time nose tackle a premium salary as long as ownership -- or, in this case, team president/CEO Mark Murphy -- is willing to pay out the cash.

Where the Pickett situation ultimately goes is uncertain, but it will be no surprise if it keeps going on for a while.