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Packers re-sign veteran LT Chad Clifton

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — The Green Bay Packers re-signed veteran left tackle Chad Clifton on Saturday, wrapping up one of their major offseason concerns early in the NFL's free agent signing period.

Clifton will now return to the left tackle spot he has occupied for most of his 10 seasons in Green Bay. The Packers do not have an obvious candidate to replace Clifton, and reported interest in the unrestricted free agent from the Washington Redskins made for some nervous moments among Packers fans.

Clifton said he always wanted to stay in Green Bay.

"This team has so much talent from top to bottom, a ton of young talent on both sides of the ball," Clifton said in a team release. "That's undeniable, and it would be foolish not to want to be a part of that. I think we'll have a really good team this coming season. Nothing's going to be easy, and I believe our division will be really tough. But this team has a lot of talent, a lot of potential, and we just have to put that together and see how we do."

Terms were not disclosed, but ESPN.com reported Friday night that Clifton's deal was for three years and $20 million, with $7.5 million in guaranteed money.

"We are happy to be able to have Chad as a member of the Packers," Packers general manager Ted Thompson said in a statement. "He has been a valuable teammate and contributor to our team. We look forward to him continuing to work to help us build and prepare for a successful 2010 season."

Losing Clifton would have been a tough blow for the Packers, who had significant issues on their offensive line last season even with Clifton in his usual spot. The Packers gave up a league-worst 51 sacks last season, although their pass protection did improve after the midseason signing of veteran right tackle Mark Tauscher.

Tauscher also is an unrestricted free agent, and his future with the team is unclear.

Defensive standout Aaron Kampman, who is coming off a major knee injury and did not always look comfortable in the Packers' new-look 3-4 defense last season, also is an unrestricted free agent and is expected to draw interest from teams that run a 4-3 defensive alignment.

Clifton's continued presence also will be critical for the Packers after two standout pass rushers joined NFC North rivals as free agents on Friday. Julius Peppers will be playing for the Chicago Bears next season, and Kyle Vanden Bosch is joining the Detroit Lions.

Originally drafted by Green Bay in the second round in 2000, Clifton has played the past 10 seasons for the Packers.

He has appeared in 143 regular-season games with 138 starts at left tackle.

He has missed just six games over the last seven years since returning from a significant pelvic injury that ended his 2002 season. He went to the Pro Bowl after the 2007 season and has been selected as a Pro Bowl alternate three times, including last season.