Walker: Thompson drove me from Green Bay


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Jan 22, 2006
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Walker: Thompson drove me from Green Bay

Staff, wire service reports

DENVER — On the day he signed a five-year contract extension worth between $40 million and $42 million with the Denver Broncos, former Packers receiver Javon Walker said Ted Thompson, not Brett Favre, was the reason he demanded a trade from Green Bay.

After a Pro Bowl season in 2004, Walker requested a new deal. He threatened to hold out of training camp, which drew a sharp rebuke from Favre.

On Wednesday, however, Walker said Favre wasn’t why he soured on Green Bay: “I would play with Favre if he went to another team. The thing I liked about him was he gave me a chance to make plays.”

Walker’s bigger problem was with Thompson, the Packers’ general manager, who refused to renegotiate his contract because he had two years left on the deal.

“I said, ‘Let’s just talk about it,”’ Walker said. “It was just a flat-out, disrespectful ‘No.”’

After watching stalwart veterans such as Darren Sharper, Mike Wahle and Marco Rivera have to leave through free agency — or be forced to sit out camp, like Bubba Franks — to get big paydays, Walker decided he was headed for the same treatment when his deal expired. So, he fired the first salvo, vowing to retire rather than play for the Packers again.

Thompson granted his wish on April 29, sending him to Denver for a second-round draft pick.

Walker, 27, is due to make $1.15 million next season plus a $1 million roster bonus, part of the five-year, $7.485 million contract he signed after joining the Packers as a first-round draft pick out of Florida State in 2002.

The five-year extension, which kicks in after next season, includes roster bonuses totaling $15 million in 2007 and 2008.

Walker, who is coming off a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee sustained in a season-opening loss at Detroit, must prove he’s healthy before collecting on the big payday he desired. His first big bonus isn’t due until March, so if his recovery goes poorly, the Broncos can cut their losses.

“I think the Broncos already made an investment in him by trading a second-round draft pick for him,” Walker’s agent, Kennard McGuire, said. “I don’t think anybody trades a second-round draft pick just to procure someone’s services for one year.”

Walker, who will resume his rehabilitation in Denver, predicted a full recovery

“I’m going to come back faster than I was before,” he insisted.

Now that Walker has the new team and new contract, there’s one more thing he desires.

How about jersey No. 84?

That belongs to tight end Wesley Duke, an undrafted free agent last year out of Mercer.

“I was told there was a young man in NFL Europe right now who was holding that number, so maybe sooner or later I’ll try to give him a call and see if I can bribe him out of that number,” Walker said.

With bonuses totaling $15 million in 2007 and 2008, Walker sure has the wherewithal.

“Yeah, but I don’t think I’ll offer him any of that,” Walker retorted. “I might invite him over to my house. Yeah, he can come over and chill, hang out.”

Maybe grill him a steak and offer him a cold beer.

And if that doesn’t work?

“I heard No. 19 was available.”

That was Jerry Rice’s number during his short stint in camp last summer.

“Yeah, who wouldn’t like to follow in his footsteps?” Walker said.

Walker left a team that limped through a 4-12, injury-filled season for one that reached the AFC title game and is coming off what many observers are calling the best draft in the league.

Walker is thrilled to be playing alongside wide receiver Rod Smith and opposite defensive back Champ Bailey.

“Playing in Green Bay, asking different DBs what receiver they always had a tough time with and they always said Rod Smith. Now I have a chance to be a part of that,” Walker said. “I’m going to come in and learn from him and hopefully we can work together as a tag team in this league and take this offense to new heights.”

Facing Bailey in practice is “going to make all the other DBs really look easy,” Walker said.

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