MILWAUKEE - NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is monitoring the ongoing rift between the Green Bay Packers and Brett Favre.
A source with direct knowledge of Goodell's interest said the commissioner has spoken with Packers management several times recently as tensions mounted between the three-time MVP and his team.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the talks.
ESPN.com first reported Goodell's interest in the Favre predicament, indicating Goodell encouraged Packers general manager Ted Thompson to survey teams around the league to try to find a trade partner in hopes of resolving it quickly.
With the Packers committed to moving forward with Aaron Rodgers as their starter and Favre apparently still intent on reversing his decision to retire in March, the best outcome for both parties could be a trade.
And Tampa Bay is emerging as perhaps the most likely destination for Favre, although it is unclear whether Favre would be willing to play for the Buccaneers.
NFL.com reported Tuesday the Packers had spoken to several teams to gauge their interest in a trade for Favre. Tampa Bay officials have publicly downplayed interest in trading for Favre, but Buccaneers quarterback Chris Simms told the St. Petersburg Times that Bucs general manager Bruce Allen asked him about Favre last week.
"He asked if I felt Brett would be able to come back and be good here if he didn't have a lot of reps in training camp," Simms said, according to the paper. "I said I thought he would but there would have to be some compromise with coach [Jon] Gruden. He'll just want the play called and to drop back and throw it in there. But it's something we talked about."
Gruden was a Packers assistant coach from 1992-94 and runs a version of the West Coast offense Favre would be familiar with.
The Packers play the Buccaneers Sept. 28 in Tampa.
Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher said he "can't imagine" seeing Favre anywhere other than Green Bay, but isn't surprised that he wants to play again.
"He loves football, and I think he kind of made the decision when the season was over," Urlacher said. "He was tired, he probably was worn down, like he said, and he made a decision that he didn't want to stick with. But he's Brett Favre, he can do whatever he wants. I don't know what's going to happen, but I would like to see him playing somewhere next year."
But Urlacher said Chicago wasn't a likely destination for Favre.
"For us? I don't think that's a possibility," Urlacher said. "If they do trade him, I don't think it's going to be in our division, No. 1. Maybe not even in our conference."
The Brett Favre drama has officially moved to the next stage and the floor is open to anyone who would like to make a bid for the retired quarterback.
But there is reason to believe the Green Bay Packers aren't 100 percent serious about trading Favre and are simply acquiescing to the desire of Favre and the National Football League to offer an avenue for him to play again.
A well-connected NFL source said that he was told by one club that the Packers were basically told to contact "everybody" to see if there is interest. In other words, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell wants the Packers to either find a trading partner or exhaust all possibilities, thereby making it clear to Favre what to do.
It is believed most teams want to see Favre apply for reinstatement before they begin serious trade talks so that they know whether he's really committed to playing. The fact Favre won't be able to play with the Minnesota Vikings - the Packers' NFC North rival - might have lessened his desire to come back.
If it were the Packers' choice, Favre would retire as a Packer. Packers GM Ted Thompson has talked about protecting the quarterback's legacy and having him associated only with the Packers, but with Favre threatening to apply for reinstatement the Packers have to keep their options open.
There are some in the organization who think the club could receive considerable compensation for Favre and owe it to themselves to find out whether that's true. Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy agree, but both prefer that Favre retire.
Among the teams the Packers considered as a potential trade partners before Goodell stepped in were the Kansas City Chiefs, Washington Redskins, Atlanta Falcons, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New York Jets, and Miami Dolphins.
According to a combination of league sources and published reports, Washington, the Jets, the Baltimore Ravens and the Houston Texans have all informed the Packers they are not interested in Favre.