Packers get backup QB for disgruntled CB
"It's time to move on," Green Bay Packers coach/general manager Mike Sherman said.
Since ending his holdout without retracting his trade request three weeks ago, McKenzie has been paid more than $485,000 but has played just nine snaps, all against Chicago. That has led fans -- and teammates -- to wonder whether he was still holding out but getting paid anyway.
The recalcitrant cornerback sat out the last two games with a mysterious hamstring injury. He was left home when the Packers traveled to Indianapolis two weeks ago and wasn't on the sideline Sunday when the Packers lost to the New York Giants at home.
"Mission accomplished," McKenzie's agent, Drew Rosenhaus told The Associated Press. "It's important to relay that there's no hard feelings on Mike's behalf. He's obviously grateful they were able to work out a deal, and there's certainly not going to be any backbiting or any negativity on our behalf."
Rosenhaus said McKenzie will play under the terms of his current contract, but he hopes to have talks with Saints general manager Mickey Loomis soon about an upgrade.
"[Loomis] understands the dynamics that went into Mike's situation: His contract was obviously an issue," Rosenhaus said. "We hope to get that resolved; whether that happens this season or in the winter, I'm not going to make that an issue. We are certainly not going to try to squeeze the Saints right now in regard to the contract."
The Packers acquired quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan, 25, and the second-round selection in the 2005 draft in return for McKenzie, 28, and a future conditional draft choice. The Packers have been interested in O'Sullivan since the Saints took him in the sixth round of the 2002 draft out of Cal-Davis.
Their interest was heightened when Brett Favre and backup Doug Pederson were injured Sunday. Favre has a mild concussion and is expected to practice this week and extend his record starting streak to 213 games, counting playoffs, against Tennessee next week. But Pederson was undergoing further tests Monday on his ribs and kidneys.
The deal is the Packers' first midseason trade in 23 years involving active players from both teams.
McKenzie, who is earning $2.75 million this year in the middle season of a five-year, $17.1 million deal he signed in January 2002, became upset when several cornerbacks of lesser talent surpassed him in compensation this offseason.
McKenzie instructed agent Brian Parker to seek a contract renegotiation in February, converting a $200,000 workout bonus into two $100,000 roster bonuses due in April and June and removing a de-escalator clause from the contract he signed in 2002.
As the Packers worked to comply with the request, McKenzie said he wanted to be traded instead. Green Bay denied his plea on April 6 and two weeks later drafted cornerbacks Ahmad Carroll and Joey Thomas with their first two selections.
Parker terminated his working relationship with McKenzie in May, and the cornerback hired Rosenhaus, his fifth representative in his six-year NFL career.
McKenzie, a starter for Green Bay since his rookie year, has 15 career interceptions. He comes off one of his most productive seasons with four interceptions, 58 tackles (55 solo) and 20 passes broken up. He was Green Bay's best defender last year and Sherman could have kept him beyond the Oct. 19 trade deadline to get one more year out of him. But McKenzie had become even more of a loner in the locker room and Sherman decided to cut ties now.
How are the Packers (1-3) better off without their best cover cornerback?
"Well, I just think from having things cleaned up," Sherman said. "As I said, from the outside in, the focus that's been put on that, everything that Mike did or didn't do was well-documented every day. And we don't have to deal with that anymore."
Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press