Donald Driver sounded like a guy who played his last game for the Green Bay Packers when the season ended and with good reason. He’s 37, coming off one of his worst statistical seasons as a pro (37 catches, 445 yards) and has a salary cap number of $5 million for 2012.
The writing is on the wall, particularly with the emergence of Jordy Nelson. At the time, Driver insisted he would play in 2012, if not with the Packers, then elsewhere. Now, it looks like Driver is making one last effort to stay in Green Bay, saying he’ll take a pay cut to do so.
“The organization knows what I’ve done on and off the field, and they want to keep me around as long as possible,” Driver told WISN TV. “If that means sitting down and taking pay cuts to stay around, then you take pay cuts to stay around. I’ve always said it’s not about the money for me anymore.
“What I’m pushing for is for my legacy to stay around in the state of Wisconsin and around the world forever. So the money’s not a big issue.”
Driver is due a $2.2 million roster bonus in March, which will likely be the biggest problem for the Packers. If the team can eliminate that and lower Driver’s base salary, there doesn’t seem to be any reason they wouldn’t take him to training camp.
Although, he’ll probably be fighting for the team’s fifth receiver job, behind No. 1 Greg Jennings, No. 2 Nelson, James Jones and Randall Cobb, who, entering his second season will surely get more opportunities.
The real question is, will the Packers bring Driver back at the expense of one of their young receivers? Mike McCarthy has traditionally kept only five receivers and the team has both Tori Gurley and Diondre Borel waiting in the wings on the practice squad.
The team will move on from Driver sometime soon. Although his leadership is invaluable, this may be the year no matter how hard he makes it for the team.