We had been discussing whether the Packers would go with four linebackers on defense this season, and then GM Ted Thompson announces that starting LB Brady Poppinga has agreed to a contract extension.
Only him and RT Mark Tauscher are starters who are eligible for free agency after this season, but as you can see from the excellent Packer Chatters salary cap page, the Packers have a flood of free agents after 2009. Keeping the team intact after 2009 will be made even harder with an uncertain labor agreement after the 2010 season.
Keeping Poppinga isn't as important as resigning Tauscher, or getting RB Ryan Grant into camp, and he's arguably the weakest starter on the team, but he probably signed for little money and he'll be an asset either on defense or special teams. He's very similar to free agent LB Brandon Chillar, it's assumed Chillar was either signed to be the starter (we shall see) or at least to push for the starting job, so Poppinga probably received something similar to the 2 year, $5.4 million deal Chillar got last March. I doubt it goes out past the 2010 season when they don't yet know what's in store for the 2011 labor agreement.
UPDATE: Boy was I wrong. I thought he'd get a modest 2 year deal, but instead he got a bigger one with a 4 year extension that will pay him around $17 million and put him in the same category as overpaid LBs Boss Bailey (Denver) and Kawika Mitchell (Buffalo). As GM Ted Thompson proved you can find guys like Poppinga around the free agent market for one-third the cost, or draft and develop with a fourth round pick, but he didn't follow his own advise.