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Reinstated defensive end Johnny Jolly still has several hurdles to clear before the Green Bay Packers will make a decision on his future.
The first step is a face-to-face meeting with general Ted Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy. The Packers’ top-two football men said Sunday that meeting has not yet taken place.
Jolly, 30, hasn’t played since the 2009 season but was reinstated by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell effective March 4. He was suspended shortly before training camp in 2010 after several arrests in the Houston area for felony possession of codeine. Jolly applied for reinstatement shortly after he was released from prison in May 2012 after serving just six months of a six-year sentence. Goodell waited nearly a year to allow Jolly back into the league in order to see whether Jolly could remain clean.
“Johnny was a good football player for us,” Thompson said. “But let’s take this step by step.”
The Packers begin their offseason program on April 15, the first day the league allows players to return for workouts, so it’s possible McCarthy and Thompson won’t have a better idea about Jolly for another month. Even if they are convinced Jolly can stay clean and will assimilate back into the locker room, perhaps the most important question is, can he still play?
“As with any player, you go through a medical process,” McCarthy said. “We’ll go through all that. I think it’s important to go through all that before we get into how we feel. Johnny, I’ve always considered him one of our guys, and everybody knows what he’s been through. It would be great if this opportunity works out. But as an organization, we have a responsibility to go through the process.”
The Packers must have at least some interest in Jolly because instead of just cutting him after he was reinstated, they reduced his salary from the $2.521 million he was scheduled to make in 2010 (that contract was tolled) to $715,000. He would only collect that if he makes the team.