MCKENZIE, PACK HAD A DEAL
A league source tells us that the Green Bay Packers and cornerback Mike McKenzie reached earlier this year an agreement in principle to resolve his misgivings with his current contract before McKenzie opted to demand a trade from the team that drafted him in 1999.
Per the source, McKenzie generally was unhappy with his contract, especially since he'd been hearing from other players and agents that he'd signed a bad deal prior to the 2002 season. But the source tells us that McKenzie and the Packers reached in February an agreement that would have placated McKenzie.
At issue was a $200,000 workout bonus that McKenzie is scheduled to earn each of the next three seasons. McKenzie requested -- and the Packers agreed -- to convert $100,000 of the amount each year to a mandatory minicamp reporting bonus and the other $100,000 to a training camp reporting bonus.
Though on paper the change would have resulted in no additional money for McKenzie, the revision would have allowed him to work out in the offseason away from Green Bay. And it would have permitted McKenzie to say that he extracted some concessions from a team that arguably got the better of the agent who represented McKenzie prior to his most recent advisor, Brian Parker.
But we're told that after the Packers committed to the arrangement, McKenzie backed out, eventually requesting a trade.
The problem for McKenzie was, and still is, that he has zero leverage in these discussions.
And we're hearing that if McKenzie opts to retire in lieu of playing out the final three years of the deal, the Packers can recover from him $43,750 per game, which equates to $2.1 million of the $3.5 million signing bonus that McKenzie received when he signed the contract.
Another snag for McKenzie is that when he agreed to convert a $1.75 million roster bonus in 2003 to a guaranteed payment for the purposes of allowing the Pack to spread the cap hit over the life of the deal, the Packers added language that arguably permits them to recoup the unallocated portion of the payment to the tune of $27,343 per game, or an additional $1.312 million over the next three seasons. At the time, McKenzie had no agent, and the insertion of that language is a prime example of what can happen to a guy who tries to deal with a team without the benefit of good, sound guidance,
In all, then, McKenzie could be forced to repay the Packers more than $3.4 million -- nearly as much as his full 2002 signing bonus -- if he doesn't honor his contract.
It remains to be seen whether the Packers will try to seek trade value in exchange for McKenzie. If it happens, look for the Ravens, Steelers, and Cowboys to talk to the Packers about getting a deal done.
And though the Packers are feeling better about their receiving corps with the emergence of Robert Ferguson and Javon Walker, we think that a McKenzie-for-Plaxico swap would be a good deal. The Steelers, however, might have to pony up a draft pick or two to placate the Packers, given that Burress is under contract for only one more season.
I'm sure Steelers fans wouldn't be opposed to this, and I would much rather have a good WR like Plax than a whiny corner who is going to hold out. The Packers took 2 good CBs in the draft, so they have a bit more depth. (Plus I have Plax in my dynasty league, and I'll take Favre and the Packers line over Maddox and the Steelers line anyday )