26

February

Green Bay Packers GM Ted Thompson is More Flexible Than You Think

Ted Thompson would definitely sign more free agents if he saw the value in it.

Over 15 inches of snow greeted me when I returned home from my vacation in Mexico so I apologize if I sound a little crabby. I caught up on Green and Gold Today podcasts while shoveling and kept hearing host Bill Michaels refer to the “Ted Thompson way” when any discussion about potential Green Bay Packers’ free agent targets came up.

Michaels basically shot every potential free agent possibility down because signing free agents is not the “Ted Thompson way.” I get where Michaels is coming from, but he’s being overly simplistic.

The Ted Thompson way is not about blatantly ignoring any and all free agents. The Ted Thompson way is about maximizing value.

I guarantee Thompson and his staff spend a lot of time evaluating free agents. Their evaluations almost always steer them in another direction, but to assume Thompson doesn’t even consider signing free agents is just wrong.

Take Nnamdi Asomugha for example. There has been some chatter that Asomugha wants to play for the Packers. Michaels said this will never happen because signing Asomugha is not the “Ted Thompson way.”

That’s nonsense.

If Thompson feels Asomugha would help the Packers and could be signed at a price Thompson feels maximizes Asomugha’s value, you better believe Asomugha could be wearing green and gold.

In all likelihood, Thompson will look at Asomugha and set a price well below what the pro bowler would probably accept. The Packers have Tramon Williams, Charles Woodson and Sam Shields already. Thompson will probably feel they can get just as much value drafting another defensive back, or using resources to address another area of the team, instead of paying a veteran like Asomugha a bunch of money.

I guarantee conversations like this do not happen in Thompson’s office:

Packers scout: “So (insert free agent name) might be a good fit for our team.”

Thompson: “Not a chance.”

Packers scout: “Why not.”

Thompson: “BECAUSE SIGNING FREE AGENTS IS NOT THE TED THOMPSON WAY!”

This conversation would never happen because Thompson does not just automatically dismiss Asomugha (or any free agent) because of the “Ted Thompson way.” A Super Bowl winning GM considers any and all methods available to build a winning team. Some GMs feel certain methods are more effective than others, but trust me, all methods are considered.

A good GM does not marry himself to using one method of team building exclusively. A good GM maximizes value at every opportunity he gets. Over the course of time, a GM’s view of what brings the most value might change.

There was a movement in baseball about 10 years ago to sign prospects out of college with high on-base percentages and walk rates. Eventually some GMs saw that high school players, athletic outfielders and young pitchers were undervalued, so forward thinking GMs started taking these types of players high in the draft.

Obviously, right now Thompson feels he gets high value out of the draft and rookie free agents. If the rest of the league starts adopting a similar view, perhaps Thompson will see more value in the free agent market. If that ever happens (doubtful), you better believe that Thompson will be more of a player in free agency.

I’m not advocating that Thompson should sign Asomugha or spend more in free agency. What I am saying is that Thompson is more flexible that we think. He considers all free agent options, but usually decides they are not worth it.

Right now, it’s hard to argue with him. But if the landscape of the NFL ever changes and more value can be found in free agency, I trust that Thompson would be forward thinking enough to recognize that trend before most of the other GMs.

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Adam Czech is a freelance reporter and a Packers fan living in the Twin Cities. Follow Adam on Twitter. Read more of Adam's writing on the Packers here.

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8 Responses to “Green Bay Packers GM Ted Thompson is More Flexible Than You Think”

  1. Taryn says:

    I think you misuse the “not the Ted Thompson way” in FA office conversations. I agree they don’t happen like that,but IMO “the Ted Thompson way in FA is NOT to be duped into buying a Yacht when a simpler craft will do and doesn’t make as big a CAPsizing wave with the other shipmates or the pocket.
    IMO,FA has seen it’s best days since the number of players signed to ridiculous contracts to teams thinking that “one” will bring us the Lombardi is ending and this CBA may in a few years bury it.

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  2. Ron LC says:

    I think TT’s decision making is a three step process. First is a talent evaluation, next is a judgement of the individuals’s capacity to learn quickly, and finally, value. Can’t argue with that approach at all. However, I wish they’d use more of that approach with the Oline. I think some progress was made with Bulaga, but they need more help before that area will stabilize. There are some good ones in the coming draft. TT’s ability to think creatively should be put to use here.

    I think Taryn makes a good point when referencing th CBA. One of TT’s real strengths is his ability to keep team costs within the GB Packer business plan. That is something that few of the owners understand at this point. And we will continue to benefit from that ability.

    I’ve excluded any comment on ST’s hee because that’s one issue MM has yet to adequately address. Not TT’s to solve!

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  3. JeffN says:

    I agree with the article in that there is not as much value in FA as some fans think. Although Ryan Pickett and Charles Woodson would indicate that sometimes there is value in FA. Isn’t it funny that everyone was calling for a
    CB to get drafted last year and TT didn’t even address that postion. Then TT picks up the undrafted Sammy Shields off the scrap heap who out performs all the other rookie CBs in the league including 1st rounders. Now this is a pickup that had value!

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