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GumboBC 05-20-2004 09:28 PM

News on Mike McKenzie


A league source tells us that several teams are interested in Packers cornerback Mike McKenzie, who recently received permission to seek a trade.

The Browns, who at one point were thinking seriously about taking DeAngelo Hall in the first round of last month's draft, are in the mix. We're hearing that, under such a scenario, the Browns would send quarterback Tim Couch and at least one draft pick to Green Bay for McKenzie.

The X factor in such discussions, however, is the willingness of Couch to reduce his salary. To date, Couch's financial expectations have kept a deal from getting done.

Other interested teams are the Ravens, Jags, and Eagles. In Baltimore, McKenzie would replace Corey Fuller, whose off-field troubles are giving the team an increasing level of discomfort. Adding McKenzie would permit the Ravens to keep Gary Baxter at safety. Baxter moved from corner to safety when Fuller was added to the roster as a free agent from Cleveland.



Agent Drew Rosenhaus likely is facing an uphill challenge as he tries to find a team willing to give up a first-round pick or a comparable player -- which, per a league source, is what the Packers expect in return for cornerback Mike McKenzie.

It's possible, as we see it, that the Packers have attached this level of compensation to any deal because they sense that no team will be willing to cough up compensation in that range.

Then again, if the Pack aren't interested in Steelers receiver Plaxico Burress, we could envision coach Bill Cowher offering to send the team's 2005 first-rounder to Green Bay for a guy who would instantly upgrade a lackluster defensive backfield. As explained above, Cowher might not be in Pittsburgh in 2005 if he doesn't win in 2004, so why not give up next year's first-round pick in an effort to make this year's team better?

And, in the end, perhaps the best outcome will be for the Steelers to send a first-rounder to Green Bay for McKenzie, and to recoup that pick by sending Plax to the Chiefs or the 49ers.

Back to McKenzie, we've picked up some additional information regarding the question of whether the veteran corner's split earlier this month with agent Brian Parker was a mutual decision. Per a league source, it wasn't -- and we've gotten an eyeful of documents that make crystal clear that the move was initiated by Parker.

We've also obtained confirmation of the fact that McKenzie faces a repayment obligation of up to $3,412,464 if he makes good on prior threats retire. $2,100,000 of that amount comes from McKenzie's original $3,500,000 signing bonus, and that remaining $1,312,464 arises from a $1.75 million roster bonus that was converted to a guaranteed payment in 2003 in order to provide cap relief for the Packers.

Finally, we've also confirmed that, at one point this offseason, McKenzie was prepared to agree to a modification of his contract that merely would have converted $200,000 per year over the next three seasons into reporting bonuses. Under the modification, McKenzie's 2006 salary also would have increased to $4,850,000 if McKenzie were elected to the Pro Bowl for the 2004 or 2005 seasons.

The proposed deal was far enough along to result in the paperwork being prepared.

At this point, however, that agreement is long gone, and the only ongoing effort will be an attempt to find McKenzie a new home. Though it seems like a possible long shot, the fact that Rosenhaus was able to work out a trade between the Redskins and the Broncos for running back Clinton Portis earlier this year suggests to us that, in the end, something will get done.

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