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Not quite time for Ricky Jean Francois to make the doughnuts just yet

Ricky Jean Francois said that being in the locker room and being back at Lambeau Field is "priceless." Isaiah J. Downing/USA TODAY Sports

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Ricky Jean Francois had 1.25 million reasons -- and 25 Dunkin’ Donuts stores -- to walk away from the NFL after the Green Bay Packers cut him last week.

He could collect the balance of his $1.25 million salary by filing for termination pay -- the onetime clause that allows veterans who are on a roster Week 1 and then released to collect their full base salary -- and also watch the money come in from the doughnut shops he owns in South Carolina and Georgia.

But that didn’t interest him.

“Nah, I was never thinking that,” he said. “Mailbox money is good money, I always tell my younger guys. Money like that can come, but to be able to come back inside and come back inside the locker room and see the guys, go and eat in the lunchroom, joke around with a lot of people in the building, that’s priceless.

“They had to make a hard decision that they didn’t want to make [when the Packers released him]. It worked out for me and my family. Yeah, Dunkin' Donuts is a business but at the end of the day I’m back in the locker room with the guys, and I’m just going to have fun with the time I’m here.”

And here’s the best part for Jean Francois: He should make even more money. Although details of the contract he signed Wednesday to rejoin the Packers weren’t immediately available, it’s likely a one-year deal for the veteran’s minimum of $900,000. He will collect a prorated portion of that salary -- $52,941 -- for every week he’s on the roster the rest of the way -- and then can collect the balance of his $1.25 million base salary if he files for termination by next February. The only thing he lost from his original deal with the Packers was the weekly roster bonuses of $25,000 per game active.

The only thing Jean Francois didn’t get was a vacation. He stayed in Green Bay after he was released except for a workout last week with the New Orleans Saints. Finally, on Wednesday he decided to get away. He booked a flight to Dallas but made it only as far as Minneapolis. When he landed to make his connecting flight, his phone was lighting up with 920 area code numbers.

“I was like, ‘What’s up? What happened?’” he said. “They were like, ‘We need you back in the building.’ And I’m like, ‘What building?’”

Injuries, especially a hip problem for defensive tackle Mike Daniels, meant Jean Francois was back on the practice field across from Lambeau Field on Thursday afternoon. He likely will play Sunday against the Bengals -- perhaps even more than the six snaps he played in the opener against the Seahawks.

“I’ve got to treat every day walking into this building like it’s my last,” the ninth-year veteran said. “So if I’m only here for the week, if I’m only here for the time that Mike is hurt, then so be it. If I’ve only got to be here for that period of time, I just need to do my job, help these guys out, make sure they’re in the right position to do what they’ve got to do. And if they’ve got to release me to make more space on the roster, let them so do.

"I’ve got guaranteed money in my hand. So I wouldn’t be mad. I would be mad, because I’m not playing on the team that I believe can actually win a Super Bowl. To not be a part of that is crazy. To sit at home and look on TV at your team playing against Atlanta, and you’re not there, you’re not with the guys, and then the next week you’re back in the same building with the guys who just came back from playing Atlanta.”