Green Bay Packers GM Ted Thompson is More Flexible Than You Think
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 â€œTed Thompson wayâ€ when any discussion about potential Green Bay Packersâ€™ free agent targets came up.
Michaels basically shot every potential free agent possibility down because signing free agents is not the â€œTed Thompson way.â€ I get where Michaels is coming from, but heâ€™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 doesnâ€™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 â€œTed Thompson way.â€
If Thompson feels Asomugha would help the Packers and could be signed at a price Thompson feels maximizes Asomughaâ€™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 Thompsonâ€™s office:
Packers scout: â€œSo (insert free agent name) might be a good fit for our team.â€
Thompson: â€œNot a chance.â€
Packers scout: â€œWhy not.â€
Thompson: â€œBECAUSE SIGNING FREE AGENTS IS NOT THE TED THOMPSON WAY!â€
This conversation would never happen because Thompson does not just automatically dismiss Asomugha (or any free agent) because of the â€œTed Thompson way.â€ 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 GMâ€™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.
Iâ€™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, itâ€™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.â€”â€”â€”â€”â€”â€”