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Levens Is Back With The Pack


Pro Bowl halfback Dorsey Levens ended his six-week holdout Sunday by signing a one-year tender for $2.742 million, which allows him to report to the Packers while the finishing touches are put on a five-year, $25 million package.

By signing him to the tender, Green Bay will be able to retain its franchise player designation and slap it on another player, such as wide receiver Antonio Freeman, who stood to cash in as a free agent after this season.

The Packers said Levens would report to the practice field Monday, but how much he will play in the season opener against Detroit won't be determined until the team sees how well-conditioned he is.

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Agent Hadly Engelhard has maintained his client is in tip-top shape, having worked out with a personal trainer and track coach in Atlanta during the protracted holdout.

The Packers planned an extra day of full-pads practice and also will put Levens through individual workouts in a crash-course preparation for the season.

Levens skipped all of the team's off-season workouts as Engelhard insisted his client would never play for the one-year tender.

As

Dorsey Levens
Levens came into his own with 1,475 yards rushing last season. (AP)
the Packers' franchise player, Levens was guaranteed the average salary of the top five players at his position last year. But that amount was rendered insufficient when other running backs cashed in on the NFL's infusion of broadcast revenue this off-season.

The Packers were offering about $4 million a year, but Levens wanted more than $5 million. By showing up for work, Levens can collect $161,294 a week under the tender deal while Green Bay and Engelhard negotiate a five-year contract.

Levens was in his fourth year out of Georgia Tech whehe took over for injured Edgar Bennett in 1997. He scored five touchdowns on passes and seven more on carries, rushing for 1,475 yards, 39 short of Jim Taylor's team record.

Realizing his value, the Packers named him a franchise player, effectively removing him from free agency because another team would have to part with two first-round draft picks by signing him.

A league rule now allows Green Bay to transfer the franchise designation to another player as long as Levens accepts a long-term extension before the end of the season.

Freeman, who signed for $1.153 million, becomes an unrestricted free agent unless he too signs a new contract and unless the Packers label him a franchise player.

He seeks a long-term deal along the lines of Cris Carter's four-year, $23.5 million extension with the Minnesota Vikings.

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