Jeff Saturday felt wanted by Pack

  • ESPN.com news services | March 25, 2012

New Packers center Jeff Saturday called Peyton Manning as soon as he signed his deal with Green Bay, he told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Many expected Saturday to sign with whichever team landed Manning. But Saturday told the newspaper in a telephone interview on Saturday that the Packers were a better fit for him than the Denver Broncos would have been.

"Peyton is a close friend and I loved playing with him," Saturday told the newspaper. "I loved the time we spent together. It was the most difficult call I've ever made. I told him before anyone else that I was going to Green Bay.

"I told him I don't think the Broncos wanted me as much as he did. They've got things going on that they're happy with and are moving forward with and I didn't think it was an exact fit. I always felt like in Green Bay I was their very first choice."

League sources told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter that Saturday's deal is for $7.75 million, including $4 million in 2012.

The 36-year-old Saturday has started 188 regular season games in 13 NFL seasons with the Indianapolis Colts.

He replaces former Packers starter Scott Wells, who signed with the St. Louis Rams as a free agent.

The addition of Saturday, with his experience in the Colts' complex offense, should make for a relatively smooth transition.

Colts owner Jim Irsay wished Saturday well.

"We wish Jeff Sat the best,I wanted him to work for team full time but he wanted to go at it one more year..he's as good of a man as it gets," Irsay wrote on his Twitter account.

Saturday had been the Colts' full-time starting center since 2000. He became a fan favorite, a key figure in the NFL Players Association and one of Manning's closest friends. He visited Green Bay and Tennessee. Saturday also thought about retiring.

"My body feels great and I'm really excited about joining (the Packers)," Saturday told the newspaper. "It's a great group of guys. I'm really happy. I saw those two guys beside me (guards T.J. Lang and Josh Sitton) and they're a pair of studs. And the way the tackles have played speaks for themselves.

"I think I'm going to have a ton of fun with those guys."

Information from ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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