Healthy again, new Packers CB Bashaud Breeland not sweating lost opportunities

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Six months ago, Bashaud Breeland was an $8 million-a-year cornerback for the Carolina Panthers.

Now, he might be one of the biggest bargains in the NFL for the Green Bay Packers.

The contract Breeland signed with the Packers on Wednesday is for one year and the veteran's minimum of $790,000. But he won't even collect the full amount because he didn't sign until Week 4. It also includes a $90,000 bonus to be paid in three $30,000 installments during the season, a source said.

But for a man who has a dollar sign tattooed on his right biceps, this isn't about the money.

Rather, it's about a return to the NFL after a trying offseason in which he went from being one of the first cornerbacks to come off the market in free agency to a medical mystery following a freak accident while on vacation.

"To me, it's not really about the money," Breeland said Wednesday after his first practice with the Packers. "I lost a lot of ball. I lost OTAs and I lost camp to get better, so right now I'm just trying to take it all in. I've got a chip on my shoulder because I want to come in and step into that role of being the player that I was. I'm not in a situation to do that right now, but I do have a chance to rechange the market, and that's my motivation right there. Not the market of being paid, but it's more the market of becoming a Pro Bowl-caliber player."

As for what the tattoo represents?

"Money," he said with a laugh. "Not in the sense of materialistic things. That's not something I cherish. But at the same time I don't let money take over the passion I have for the game."

Breeland's injury dates to his childhood, when he got his left foot caught in the spokes of a bicycle. With the skin on the back of his heel shredded, doctors performed a skin graft from his left arm. The foot didn't give him any problems until this offseason, when he got hit by a golf cart while on vacation in the Dominican Republic.

That was two weeks before free agency, when he signed a three-year, $24 million contract with the Panthers. Upon reporting to Carolina, he failed his physical and that voided the deal.

Breeland said when word spread about his injury and the infection that followed, it got blown out of proportion.

"They said I had an infection but not a major infection," Breeland said. "I don't really see how that got out there like it was infected like I was losing my foot or something. But it was just a freak accident."

Breeland spent the first four years of his career with the Redskins. He played in 61 of a possible 65 games (including playoffs) with 59 starts (two against the Packers) and eight career interceptions. He ranked fifth in the NFL last season with 19 pass breakups.

"I just want to get back to the player that I'm meant to be, that I've always been," Breeland said. "And just show them that I am that player they saw then and I will still be that player now."

The Packers signed Breeland after they placed cornerback Davon House on injured reserve because of a shoulder injury. And cornerback Kevin King missed last week's loss at Washington because of a groin injury and did not practice on Wednesday.

"He's a talented player," Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said of Breeland. "I think he has confidence to play press and off. With our scheme a lot, we are pressing and playing some man coverage, and he has the ability to do that.

"He's got good ball skills. I told him, I saw him in the training room earlier and said I was glad to be playing with him instead of against him now. Anytime you bring a guy off the street, there's a different type of energy with that player. There's an excitement of being back and a part of something special. He's excited to be here and we're excited to get him out on the field."