Packers QB Harrell sees future in Green Bay
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Getting a modest pay raise was nice for Graham Harrell. What he really wanted was a sense that he had a future in Green Bay.
The Packers signed Harrell from the practice squad to the active roster on Wednesday, fending off potential interest from the Buffalo Bills.
And with Packers No. 2 quarterback Matt Flynn likely to get some free agent offers in the offseason from teams that might give him the chance to show he's a starter, Harrell now appears to have an inside track to becoming Aaron Rodgers' primary backup next season.
"It shows they want to keep you around, and that's always nice," Harrell said. "It's a good thing to be wanted. It was a stressful day trying to decide what's the best situation. It's a good thing to be wanted and I've always enjoyed it and am happy to still be here."
The move was a vote of confidence in Harrell.
"It's a great opportunity for Graham," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "He's someone that's been in our program now for almost two years. I'm obviously favorable to the quarterback position, and what he adds to that room and to the locker room, he's a very likable young man. We think he has a promising future."
And the Packers need a long-term backup plan, with Flynn likely to leave.
Flynn, a seventh-round pick out of LSU in 2008, opened eyes around the NFL with a strong performance against New England last season. With Rodgers sitting out because of a concussion he sustained against Detroit a week earlier, Flynn threw for 251 yards with three touchdowns and an interception.
The Packers lost that game, but Flynn proved his point.
"I think that Matt's definitely good enough to play in this league, there's no question, and I'm sure he wants a shot to start somewhere," Harrell said. "If he got a shot next year, it would make the decision I made look a lot better. Either way, this is a place that I've loved from Day 1. The organization treats you right (and) they win. You can't put a price on that. If you have an opportunity to stay, why not stay?"
Rodgers was happy to see Harrell get a shot.
"There were some conversations yesterday about his situation," Rodgers said. "I think he has a bright future in this league. And with Matt's status up in the air about where he's going to be next year, I think Matt has played well enough to get some opportunities to be a starter in this league. When you've got a guy like Graham Harrell who's learned the position and done some really nice things, I think he has, definitely, the potential to be my backup and then a future starter in the league."
Before deciding between Green Bay and Buffalo, Harrell talked it over with Rodgers.
"He told me I should stay," Harrell said. "Maybe that was a selfish reason because he and I get along so well and he's pretty comfortable right now. I trust him and he wouldn't advise me in the wrong direction. I'm excited to be here. Having him definitely helps, not only because we get along so well but he's such a great player and he can do everything he can to teach you. It's a great place to learn and develop."
Harrell spent a tense Tuesday night talking with his agent, Joby Branion, then ultimately had to decide between Green Bay and Buffalo.
"They were very interested," Harrell said. "I don't know what the quarterback situation is there. They didn't say they were giving (me) a position or anything like that. They just said, `We want to have you here,' and Joby said they were very interested and picked you and wanted you to come. Being here, it's been too great of a place to me and I've enjoyed every minute I've been here. This is too good of an organization to leave if you have an opportunity to stay."
After a record-setting career at Texas Tech, Harrell spent 2009 on the injured list in the CFL. Harrell had tryouts during the Cleveland Browns' rookie minicamps in 2009 and 2010, but didn't stick.
The Packers signed him in May 2010 and he spent most of last season on the practice squad, before the team signed him to its active roster for the final three games of the regular season and the postseason.
Harrell wound up back on the Packers' practice squad this year, and once again has been called up to the active roster. This time, he hopes it's for good.
"I think this is as good a place to be if you're not starting," Harrell said. "This is a better place anywhere in the NFL, obviously, because you have Aaron to learn from and a great coaching staff. This organization and the way they treat their people is second to none. If you're going to be somewhere to learn, I think this is the best spot to be."
Connect with AP Sports Writer Chris Jenkins: www.twitter.com/ByChrisJenkins
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press
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