Tauscher Excited About New Contract


Mark Tauscher said he feels so good that he wants to play in Sunday's game against the Chicago Bears.

Considering the Packers' offensive tackle has been on injured reserve since the third week of the season, that's refreshing to hear.

Of course, Tauscher has reason to be full of verve. Wednesday the Packers announced having signed the former seventh-round draft pick to a six-year contract extension that will keep him in a green and gold jersey through the 2008 season.

"I'm very pleased and really excited to be a part of this thing for a long time," Tauscher said.

That the Packers would sign him to a six-year deal demonstrates how much they want Tauscher to be a part of their future. It also demonstrates their confidence that the 25-year-old will make a full recovery from his September knee surgery.

After two seasons in which he didn't miss a game, Tauscher went down in the second week of the 2002 season, suffering a 75-percent tear of his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).

Not only devastating to his hopes for the season, it was equally compromising to his edge at the bargaining table as he approached free agency.

Although naturally concerned, Tauscher said he felt confident that the Packers would treat him fairly.

"Obviously there's some doubts," Tauscher said. "In most organizations I don't they'd be negotiating with a guy that's hurt.

"That just shows the class and the great organization here. People say it all the time, but the proof is there that that's the case. We came to the table and we worked it out and I couldn't be more pleased with it."

Packers GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman acknowledged that the team takes some risk in re-signing Tauscher in the midst of his rehab, but said he trusts him to make a full recovery.

And before Tauscher could have a chance to affirm Sherman's faith, the Packers needed to do the same for Tauscher.

"He's been probably the lowest-paid (starting) offensive lineman in the National Football League," Sherman said. "There aren't many seventh-round picks starting for teams as long as he's started for our team.

"Part of that was appreciation for what he's done for us already. I think it's important for players to know that we take care of our players here."

Tauscher sees it as a win-win situation.

"The Packers took on some risk and for that I'm showing I'm very grateful and I'm giving up the chance to be a free agent," he said. "They're going to get a good football player for a lot of years and I'm not going to be able to touch the free agent market ...

"I feel 100-percent confident that I'm going to come back and play at a high level for a lot of years here. I think both sides are going to be very happy with the agreement."

Tauscher's contract announcement was the second of the week for the Packers, who gave Donald Driver a five-year contract extension Monday.

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