GREEN BAY — Donald Driver expressed no doubt he would be on the Green Bay Packers' roster to start 2012 after he renegotiated his contract late last month.
Now we know why.
The Packers guaranteed Driver $1.2 million this season, making it highly unlikely they would release the 37-year-old, 14-year veteran.
According to a source with access to NFL Players Association contract information, Driver's renegotiated contract is worth a total of $2.3 million for this season. The deal, which was completed on May 30, includes a base salary of $1.1 million and a roster bonus of $1.2 million, which is the same as the amount of guaranteed money. It's unclear when the roster bonus was or will be paid, but the fact Driver is guaranteed $1.2 million almost certainly means there's no chance the Packers would cut him before the start of the season.
"I just don't think it's going to happen," Driver said on May 30, when he returned to the Packers following his stint on "Dancing with the Stars." "I don't think we'll ever get into a bitter relationship. They don't want that. I don't want that. So I don't think it will ever happen. It's going to be two sides coming together like we did, and I'm going to retire as a Packer."
Driver, the team's all-time leading receiver, has said he hopes to play until age 40, but no additional seasons were added to his contract, meaning he would be a free agent after the 2012 season if another deal is not reached before next March.
The renegotiation cut Driver's pay more than in half. Under the deal he signed on Aug. 7, 2010, Driver was scheduled to make $5 million this season. The renegotiation cut his base salary by $1.5 million. His roster bonus was cut by $1 million.
Last season, Driver caught 37 passes for 445 yards — his lowest totals since 2001.
Keeping Driver almost surely means the Packers will have six receivers on their 53-man roster. Last season, they kept five but had promising prospects Diondre Borel and Tori Gurley on the practice squad.
When asked two weeks ago whether keeping six receivers was a possibility, Packers coach Mike McCarthy replied: "The way we play, you could make a legitimate argument for six receivers with the overall roster."
The Packers begin their three-day mandatory minicamp Tuesday with the only practice that will be open to fans. It starts at 10:45 a.m.
The Packers also will practice at that time on Wednesday and Thursday, but those workouts are not open to the public.
The minicamp is the final team event before players report to training camp on July 25. The first training camp practice is July 26.