The long-awaited conclusion to the Brett Favre saga may finally be at hand.
When Favre faxed his reinstatement papers to the league Tuesday, he set in motion a vehicle that many believe will stop with the Packers trading Favre, perhaps to the Bucs.
That is not the Packers' only option, of course, but if Green Bay refuses to release Favre or invite him back into their locker room, then dealing him may be their only option.
Bucs general manager Bruce Allen continued to refer all questions regarding Favre to the Packers, who plan to wait until Favre is officially reinstated before commenting publicly on their plan.
"The plan for Brett Favre will be discussed first with Brett Favre and then we'll make the public aware of it," Packers coach Mike McCarthy told the Green Bay media Tuesday.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell could reinstate Favre as soon as today. He was believed to be delaying that action Tuesday in an effort to give the Packers more time to reach a conclusion on the matter.
It is believed that Goodell has given the Packers 24 hours to decide their next move, which may be to throw the ball back in Favre's court and see if he is willing to sit the bench for them.
The Packers say they remain committed to Aaron Rodgers as their starting quarterback, but McCarthy said this week that he didn't foresee Favre returning to the Packers as being a problem.
"Brett Favre is a big part of the Green Bay Packers' history, and he may be a part of the future as we move forward," McCarthy said. "That's an option that he has if he reinstates."
The Packers have been scouring the league in search of a team that will give them what they believe is fair-market value for Favre, but no team has offered that in return.
The Packers are believed to be seeking a third-round pick that could become a first-round pick based on Favre's performance. They now may be forced to drop that price drastically in an effort to keep Favre from reporting.
Throughout the process, Bucs officials have refused to say they are not interested in acquiring Favre. On Monday, Coach Jon Gruden went so far as to say, "That would not be fair to Brett Favre."
The only other team that has reportedly expressed interest in Favre is the New York Jets. The Bucs and Jets have been granted permission to speak to Favre, but neither team is believed to have acted on that grant.
The Bucs' plan all along was to wait until Favre was reinstated to make a move in the matter, so they may now have some interest in talking to him. They may not like what they hear, however.
Favre has not said he has no interest in playing for Tampa Bay, but in separate interviews with ESPN.com and SI.com last weekend he was said to be "lukewarm" at best to the idea.
Favre, whose wish is to be released, had the same reaction to the idea of playing for the Jets. It is believed that he is eager to play for the Vikings, a division rival of the Packers.