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Source: Packers' Grant has bonus due

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Adam Caplan

Adam Caplan is our newest NFL reporter/insider at FOXSports.com. He has spent the past 10 seasons covering the league, specializing in player personnel, injuries and contracts.

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The Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers struggled to run the ball most of last season after starting running back Ryan Grant was lost to a broken ankle during the first game against the host Philadelphia Eagles.

The team got a boost from rookie James Starks during the playoffs, but Grant’s explosiveness and ability to make one cut and get to daylight was clearly missed.

Grant, according to a source, has a $1 million roster bonus due on the 15th day of the new league year. Of course, with the players being locked out, the start of the new league year is unclear. Grant also has a total of $750,000 of per game roster bonuses ($46,875 per game active) and a $3.5 million base salary for 2011, the final year of his contract.

If Starks has proven one thing this early in his career, it’s that he could handle a lot of work. He carried the ball 81 times over a four-game stretch all the way through the Super Bowl.

“I think James Starks has a tremendous future in Green Bay,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said during last month’s NFL Scouting Combine.

But Starks didn’t even play during his senior season at the University at Buffalo because of a shoulder injury. In fact, he didn’t participate in training camp, missed all of the preseason and missed the first 13 games of the regular season.

“You could see the talent the first day he arrived,” McCarthy said. “It was a very unusual situation with his medical history coming out of college, not being able to play because he was on PUP (physically-unable-to-perform list). I think everybody got a clean look at what he’s able to do in the playoffs. The opportunity to go through training camp and have a full year of training under his belt, he definitely has big days ahead of him.”

With the likelihood that the team will pass on re-signing veteran Brandon Jackson, whose contract expired after the 2010 season, that would leave the Packers with Starks, Grant and the rarely used Dimitri Nance on their 80-man roster.

The Packers’ decision should be pretty easy — pay the bonus when by the time it’s due.

Why?

Letting Starks be the guy at running back after just 110 carries (29 regular season, 81 playoffs) in his nascent career is a bit premature. Having a one-two punch of Starks and Grant makes a whole lot more sense at this point.

Tagged: Packers, Ryan Grant, James Starks

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