It could be an extension leading toward an extension. The NFL and the NFLPA agreed Thursday to push the collective bargaining agreement expiration deadline back by 24 hours until 11:00 PM Wisconsin time Friday night. The two sides will meet separately with the federal mediator on Friday where the discussion is expected to center on pushing that deadline back another seven to ten days. It's an indication that enough progress has been made on peripheral issues to keep both sides talking until the big ticket items, an 18 game regular season, a new rookie wage scale and improved retirement and pension benefits are hammered out. Packers president and CEO Mark Murphy has attended the meetings the past two days in Washington D.C.
Back in Green Bay, the Packers are getting their ducks in a row just in case. As expected, A.J. Hawk didn't stay on the open market very long. Released on Wednesday, Hawk signed a new, five year contract on Thursday. The deal is reportedly worth 35 million dollars with 10 million guaranteed. Hawk led the team in tackles last year and has averaged over 100 a season since he joined the Pack as the 5th pick overall in 2006. General Manager Ted Thompson may have too much of a good thing however at the linebacker position. Hawk will certainly stay in the starting lineup for the long haul, Desmond Bishop got a new deal this season, Brandon Chillar also received an extension, so what does the future hold for Nick Barnett? He's due 5.5 million in 2011, 6 million in 2012, starter money to be sure but there may not be room for him now. Barnett has finished the year on injured reserve twice in the past three seasons and there was a report on nfl.com that the Packers are entertaining offers on a potential trade.
Second round tender offers were extended to Daryn Colledge and Mason Crosby on Thursday, lesser round tenders may also have gone out to the likes of Brandon Jackson, James Jones, John Kuhn and Korey Hall. If a new CBA is worked out with similar free agent rules in place, the Packers would retain the negotiating rights to those players. Without a CBA, it might become a moot point. Backup safety Josh Bell did not receive a tender so his days with the Packers are done regardless.
The Packers also issued a reminder to fans Thursday. Despite the labor talks, payment for 2011 season tickets is still due by the normal deadline of March 31. The Packers hiked ticket prices by a couple of dollars nearly across the board.