Packers will give Clifton, Driver opportunities to make team

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Tom Silverstein/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Thursday, March 29, 2012

The status of left tackle Chad Clifton and wide receiver Donald Driver has not changed since the end of the season.

Both are still on the Green Bay Packers roster.

On Wednesday, coach Mike McCarthy gave every indication that Clifton and Driver were still in the team's plans despite their advancing age and high salaries and that only medical issues would prevent them from returning for another season.

When asked whether Clifton would be back, McCarthy seemed surprised the question was asked.

"Definitely," he said. "There's definitely a possibility. We haven't taken him off (the roster), so he's someone we'll continue to talk about and get the reports. He's down in Tennessee now, so we'll see how he recovers."

Clifton started just six games last season due to a hamstring tear and a back injury he suffered while rehabbing the hamstring. He returned in time to play some in the season finale against Detroit and started the playoff game against the New York Giants.

He was not his usual reliable self and wound up being pulled against the Giants. After the season, he had surgery on his back and told McCarthy he experienced instant relief.

The Packers begin their off-season workout program on April 15, and McCarthy will know more about Clifton then.

If the Packers stick with Clifton, they may seek a more incentive-based contract than the one he has now, which calls for him to earn a $5.25 million base salary and $500,000 in bonuses.

The Packers have two other younger options in Marshall Newhouse and Derek Sherrod, that latter of whom should be ready for training camp after suffering a broken leg Dec. 18 at Kansas City.

As for the 37-year-old Driver, McCarthy said his performance in the second half of the season showed he still has something left in the tank.

Despite having two young receivers in Tori Gurley and Diondre Borel waiting in the wings, McCarthy said there's nothing wrong with having a lot of competition for jobs.

"We don't just try to get four receivers or five receivers and stop there," he said. "You want to get as many as you can."

Driver has already offered to take a pay cut from his $5 million salary, $2 million of which is due on the first day of training camp. Aside from off-season workout bonuses, the Packers don't have to pay Driver or Clifton anything for now.

Saturday's take

The two-year contract free agent center Jeff Saturday signed is worth $7.75 million and does not include a signing bonus, a source with access to NFL salary information said.

Saturday received a $1.65 million roster bonus when he signed and is scheduled to receive a base salary of $1.1 million and a per game active roster bonus of $1.25 million for a total of $4 million in 2012.

Next year, he will receive a base salary of $1.35 million, a roster bonus of $1.4 million and a per game active roster bonus of $1 million for a total of $3.75 million.

"I just thought he was a very good fit," McCarthy said. "I think the way we play on offense it's important to have a veteran center."

Moving target

McCarthy did not have much reaction to revelations that quarterback Aaron Rodgers was the target of one of the New Orleans Saints' cash bounties last season.

"To be honest with you, I'm past that," he said. "I've moved on. I think it's been addressed."

Not a word spoken

It has been several weeks since defensive end Mike Neal tested positive for a performance-enhancing substance, but McCarthy said the two have not spoken yet.

Neal told Fox Sports Wisconsin that he tested positive on a technicality and not because he took a performance-enhancing drug.

He said it was medication his doctor prescribed but was not reported to the NFL.

"Mike's in a medical situation; he needs to get healthy," McCarthy said of an injured knee. "He obviously wasn't healthy at all last year, and we're counting on his development. But there's going to be more competition there, and he's going to have to get himself ready to go."

Thanks, but no thanks

McCarthy did not seem to put off that his team wasn't chosen to play in the kickoff opener against the New York Giants in New Jersey on Sept. 5.

"I can understand why they want the Giants and the Cowboys to play, and that being a division game, it obviously gives a heightened excitement to the game," he said.

"I mean, it's a great game to play in, especially if you're the home team. But I wouldn't say I was surprised."

Last updated: 7:50 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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