Packers Making a Splash on First Day of Free Agency

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The Ted Thompson StareWho would have thought you would be reading stories about the Green Bay Packers on this first day of NFL Free Agency? Yes, the Packers are making news today, but unfortunately, it’s not the type you want to hear.

No, Ted Thompson didn’t go against form and dip into the free agent waters on the first day for the big fish. But then again, you knew that, right? No, the news is all bad today for the Packers.

First, Scott Wells, the one Packers free agent that fans have been saying the team “had to sign” is going to be leaving Green Bay. This hasn’t been officially announced yet, but it had been widely reported from a variety of reliable sources, including Packer Report and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Let me first say that I never bought into the Scott Wells Pro Bowl scenario.  Wells does a lot of things well (no pun…), but he’s not outstanding at anything. He’s had two really good years where he hit his physical peak and his years of experience put him over the top from good player to very good player. But a Pro Bowl center? Not for my taste.

Wells made the most with what he had, but I hold one grudge against Scott Wells – he can’t throw a block downfield on a screen to save his life. As a freakishly deranged fan of the screen game, I can assure you I have watched enough tape of this that you can take my word for it. Not that this makes him a bad player. As I’ve already said, he’s a very good player. Do remember, however, that the Packers tried very hard to replace him with Jason Spitz a few years ago.

For my money, however, Scott Wells wasn’t worth it and I’m not surprised that Ted Thompson has gone this route. Wells is at the peak of his career right now, the worst time to give a 31year old player a career-high contract. Think about this; what is the likelihood that Wells is going to improve on last season? I would put it at 10% Instead, the odds would heavily favor a decline as the age numbers increase.

But even with all of that, I still find myself a bit sad at the news. Wells was a known quantity, and helped solidify the Packers pass protection calls when the’ Jason Spitz experiment failed and Wells got his starting job back. But we have to think big picture, Packers fans.

Ted Thompson spends his money prudently and he knows he will get more bang for his buck by using that money elsewhere. The Packers have some big contracts to extend in the next year or two. They also figure to have 10-11 draft picks this year, thanks to compensation picks from losing free agents last season. If he doesn’t trade some of those picks, that’s a lot of money he’ll need in the coffers to sign all of those rookies. And who knows, perhaps he is actually planning to dip his toes in the vast free agent ocean of 2012 and sign a mid-level player or two. Certainly more depth is needed everywhere on the defense.

And that brings us to Mike Neal, the other not so excellent reason the Packers are in the news today. Neal has been suspended by the NFL for the first four games of 2012 for using performance enhancing drugs. The man that has already missed 25 games in just two seasons will now miss at least another four.

Needless to say, Neal is just adding insult to injury (no pun again…). He has left the Packers organization high and dry once again, this time of his own doing. As many have speculated, Neal was most likely looking for any edge to help his injury heal faster.  While his desire to quell the whispers and the Justin Harrell comparisons might have been noble, certainly the method he chose was nothing of the sort.

It also begs the question – has Neal used illegal enhancers before? Did the “workout warrior” ever hit the “juice” before to help him amass that wall of muscle known as his body? Or was this a one-time mistake, born out of frustration and desperation? We may never know.

Finally, one also has to wonder how this plays out in the Neal family, where “God is Number One?” How does a man of such faith justify cheating? Now, I’m not trying to sound holier than thou here, but I do find it ironic when people who live for the Lord do things that they know the Lord would not approve of.

On the other hand, I do believe in second chances. Which is why I was rather surprised at all the “cut him now” sentiment being thrown around by Packers fans today. People have done much worse and gotten multiple chances to find the right road. Why shouldn’t Neal? The Packers have a big investment in Neal; why would any sane person want to throw it all away without giving him every chance to pay off on that investment?

Neal will certainly be given that opportunity by the Packers, so let’s stop the silly “cut him” talk.  However, it’s surely OK to be mad. It’s surely OK to be angry with what he’s done to the team. And for now, it’s surely OK to call him a dick.

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Jersey Al Bracco is the founder and editor of AllGreenBayPackers.com, and the co-founder of Packers Talk Radio Network. He can be heard as one of the Co-Hosts on Cheesehead Radio and is the Green Bay Packers Draft Analyst for Drafttek.com.

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  • FireMMNow

    Al totally agree on your assessment of Wells. He is a good player but far from a great player. There are about 3 centers in this league that can actually beat the man in front of them and move a DT off of the ball. The next 10 top centers are guys like Wells. Smart guys, that make the right calls and get a stalemate with the DT most of the time. Sometimes the get some movement, sometimes they get put in the QBs lap. Wells may be a top 15 packer currently, but he is also the most replaceable of the top 15. TT cannot keep everyone. There is a reason that about 8 or 9 starting centers are hitting FA this year…they are all replaceable except for 2 or 3. TT still has to find a replacement, but it is not like he has to replace Rodgers or CM3. Everyone thought the sky was going to fall when Frank “Bag of Donuts” left, everyone thought the world would end when Mike Flanagan left. Wells, Flanagan and Winters all made the pro bowl…and they will all be replaced.

  • Zack

    I’m not big on second chances because if you or me or any average working stiff got caught doing what Neal did we would be fired immediately… Same with most of the celebrity “Second chance” rhetoric that extends beyond professional sports from Bill Clinton to Michael Jackson and back to sports with OJ Simpson and Michael Vick and Mike Tyson. All of these guys have done stuff that if you or I have done we would have been fired and never been in a good position to get a job again but because they are celebrities they’re supposed to be allowed the second chance that you or I would be denied… Why should they be held to a lower standard than you and me?

    • http://allgbp.com Jersey Al

      That’s a pretty negative view. I agree there are different standards, and it’s something that irritates the hell out of me, but I still stay optimistic that the second chance would be there for me too. maybe not the 3rd, 4th or 5th chances some of these guys get, but at least a 2nd chance.

    • Mojo

      Sorry, I have to disagree with you Zack. What Neal has done does not compare at all to what Simpson(beheading his ex and killing another), Vick(dog fighting), Tyson(rape and domestic abuse among numerous other malfeasance), Clinton(infidelity and perjury) and Jackson(child molestion) were accused or convicted of. I want to hear what the circumstances are surrounding Neal’s positive test.

      I have to agree with Al, we can be frustrated and disappointed, but it’s way to early to ask for his head. From all reports, Neal is a very decent person. I don’t know if the fan reaction is more from Neal not living up to his draft status than from testing positive for PED’s.

      • David Wysocki

        Seriously, Mojo? You’re throwing Clinton in with a murder, a couple of rapists? LOL!

        • Mojo

          No, Zack did.

        • Zack

          I’m not saying Clinton is as bad as the others…. that’s not the point. this isn’t supposed to be a political discussion. The thing he has in common with them is he’s held to a lower standard than people of lesser positions. Clinton was guilty of perjury and fraternization (infidelity is not necessarily grounds for discharge/ firing. fraternization is basically having inappropriate relations with someone under your authority.) If a person in a military/ government position were found guilty of this they would be fired/ discharged with a DH permenantly attached to their employment record and would have trouble getting a job even at mcdonald’s or something like that. Similarly, if a person in the military was found guilty of using steroids to pass their physical assessment, they would get the same treatment, DH. A pro football player gets caught doing the same thing and he gets a 4 game suspension… A role model to young children gets caught cheating and he gets a slap on the wrist where a person serving the country has his life ruined. Double standard indeed… if you don’t like the clinton comparison forget I mentioned him and just look at the other examples and you’ll see truth to the statement.

          • Zack

            DH is dishonorable for those who don’t know

            • Bubbaloo

              Geez Zack, you almost sound jealous! I think everyone deserves at least a 2nd chance. I at the very least would like to hear from Neal. Yes, I want to believe he did it to recover, but I want to hear it from him, hear his apology and whatever else he has to say. It would be much better than what we got from Braun, who you failed to mention!

              • Zack

                This was not AT ALL meant to be an all inclusive list just the tip of the iceburg of a list of hundreds of examples so I didn’t FAIL to mention Ryan Braun, I just DIDN’T mention him. Not jealous I’m just tired of seeing patty cake BS splap wrist punishments handed out to celebrities just because they’re celebrities. It obviously doesn’t deter them from doing it again and again the only thing that would work is leagues taking a hard line on issues like this. That pathetic punishment encourages steroid use if anything. Very little risk to take in using steroids with a lot of reward…

      • Zack

        I’m not saying that it’s on the same level of what they did… which is why I’m not saying he should go to jail. The others either did or should have (with the exception of Clinton). I was just saying these ultra lenient punishments are something that makes me angry about celebrities in general. Just saying he should have a much more severe punishment. 4 games is a joke. I would be inclined to say 2 year suspension- lifelong ban… with me I lean more toward life long ban. It’s hard to make an argument for him when he very deliberately broke the rule… and when it hits that point it’s a matter of integrity. It’s not a grey area it’s pretty black and white. Slack ass punishment brings slack ass results. Vick should never have played pro football again… the fact that he is in the league makes me sick.

        Sure we’ll hear the circumstances around his PED use but it’ll just be the same excuses every player in his position makes.

        My reaction is not based on Neal’s performance, I can assure you. If this was Rodgers or Mathews I would have the same reaction.

    • ScottS

      I’m not so sure that what Neal tested positive for is even illegal, so the “average working stiff” would probably recieve even less of a reprimand from his employer, not more.

      • Zack

        care to share a link with that has info on what he used? all I’ve heard is illegal steroids so if you have more info please share.

    • greg lin

      yes, we do have double standard. Its a very interesting and controversial phenomenon in our society. Do U suggest to throw Brett and Russ Limbaugh in a jail or cut them off the air?? Both of them were caught to take vickies or something like that.They have not lost their jobs, have they? I just wish TT would have not cut off Cullen Jenkins.It might have cost GB a SB

  • Bearmeat

    Al,

    Don’t be so hasty to call someone out like that. People of faith also are people – in other words – they’re messed up – just like the rest of us.

    Did Neal make a mistake? Yes. He was caught doing what I’m sure many NFL players do. That doesn’t excuse it. He probably did feel pressure to produce quickly and made a stupid choice.

    I completely agree on Wells. I’d love to have him back – but at a reasonable contract for no more than 4 years. He’s not going to go for that, so he gone. And that’s ok.

    Get a cheaper C in FA or the mid rounds at the draft.

    • http://allgbp.com Jersey Al

      Wasn’t calling Neal out specifically for that, just making a general comment. It’s how I feel.

  • Barutan Seijin

    Neal looks like a juicer and gets injuries like a juicer. He’s not a second Justin Harrell — he’s worse.

    • Zubke

      He maybe the worst of Johnny Jolly and Justin Harrell all in one.

  • http://www.JohnnyBrooksHomes.com Johnny Brooks

    If Neal were good, he would deserve a second chance, but he’s not. Let him have a second chance with another team.

  • Eric

    Cut that m fer. On to the next bitch

  • Zubke

    For me it’s not about 2nd chances, but does he have the talent to play and can he stay healthy?

    • http://allgbp.com Jersey Al

      Absolutely true, but in order for to find that out, he has to get a second chance, no?

  • Dan

    why all the fuss over a guy that was an absolute nonn-factor to the team. losing neal for 4 games is like losing our water boy.. i sure as hell hope TT wasnt counting on this loser again. now go get some help for this D and quit worring about bums

  • Bubbaloo

    I think some of you guys are a little harsh, yet I do understand. The guy (as you have shown) is under a lot of pressure to perform, and maybe that’s why he did the steroids, to heal! Let’s at least hear the rest of the story and see where it leads. I don’t remember you same guys calling for Walden’s head.

  • http://www.sportmentary.com Sportmentary

    Vikings fan popping in for my first time. Reading the article and the comments here, I can only dream that the Vikes had your problems. Besides lacking in talent, who knows where they’ll end up playing.

    • http://allgbp.com Jersey Al

      For your sake, I hope I don’t feeling sorry for Vikings fans as I used to for Lions fans. That would require a lot of years of awful teams…

  • Tarynfor 12

    It doesn’t matter why he took the PHDs,help the injury to heal faster,under pressure to perform…the simple fact and truth is it wasn’t a “mistake” which does merit a second chance but,he made a “decision” to do what everyone knows is illegal and that isn’t a second chance issue.

    He gets paid to perform,he has great medical via the team to heal and yes the chance of not being able to heal enough legally to play again is possible but that is a side of the sport you know ahead of time.

    I’ve said a million times children still in learning years make mistakes,adults,especially those that make $$$$ in sports and know the rules of drugs…make”decisions” and second chances should not be garnered easily for having total disregard of what was afforded them.

    Football shouldn’t have a “3 strike rule”,and as Zach implies,because their celebs,second chances should come as often as it does for the every day person making a”decision that they know to be illegal”….after suffering the same losses as those in every day life.

    The NFL holds a draft every year to restock it’s business with talent and those that spit on the business by ignoring it’s rules can and are replaced and should be without hesitation as their actions are not without malice toward the NFLs reputation.

  • john driscoll austin texas

    as far as Wells making the Pro Bowl, didnt any of you see how horrible Andre Gurode was at Dallas and he made 4 or 5 Pro bowl teams, I see a good, smart, dependable player on one of the best offensive teams ever…as far as Neal goes, he looked damn good those first 2 games of 2010, looked like a stout DL..maybe he’ll return to this level someday, was fairly obvious he shouldn’t have tried to return last year. They definitely need some help for Raji and Pickett on the DL

    • http://allgbp.com Jersey Al

      “wells is a “good smart dependable player.” Well, yeah, isn’t that what I was saying? read FireMM’s comment at the very top for additional perspective on Wells.

  • Pete Kliman

    Everyone deserves a second chance. You would all feel differently if you were in his shoes. Wells is a very difficult call,but the right one .If I had a wish,Smith would earn the center pasition in training camp.

  • JRMD

    Mike Neal does what probably %70 of guys that play his position do! I played D1 Football in the Big Ten and everyone was on something at some point almost across the board! Do you really think that human physiology has changed that much in the last 40 years!? Do you really think it’s natural to be 6’4 and weigh 320 lbs with body fat in the high teens!? If so, you guys are smoking! I am a physician as well so I am familiar with the science. The morality can be debated all day but it’s a business and unless they are going to really crack down on everyone, they shouldn’t punish anyone! They obviously want these behemoths to play in their league so I think it’s rather hypocritical to pretend they want a “clean” league. Give me a break!
    As for Neal, he has not performed and can’t stay on the field! He looks like a juicer for sure and it may have something to do with his constant string of injuries. He is unlikely to ever live up to his potential and I believe he should be give a shot with another team. I feel bad for him, he seems like a nice guy. Unfortunately, the NFL is a business and a “what have you done for me lately” league. I’m sorry but I could rush the passer better than this guy and I’m 44 yrs old! We also need to deal Hawk! Another nice guy but way too slow and expensive to be effective. If you want to watch some linebackers who are dynamic and can fly to the ball, watch the 49’ers! Those guys play backer the way the modern league requires. If I had a dollar for every time I watched footage that showed Hawk flailing in coverage, I would be a rich man! It’s great to have nice guys on the football team but our defense actually needs some “nasty” IMO. By the way, whoever said that Neal got a “slap on the wrist” was mistaken. How is %25 of the regular season a slap on the wrist?! Would you like someone to sanction %25 of your yearly pay? I don’t think so and it would be a crushing blow if they did. This guy is not some ungodly wealthy millionaire that’s been in the league for 10 years. the guy has barely played so believe me, 4 games HURTS for a variety of reasons.

    • http://allgbp.com Jersey Al

      Thanks for commenting and your unique perspective. But you would also cut Neal based on this? Me, I’d want to give him every chance to earn the money I’ve paid him. That’s why Justin Harrell kept being brought back.

  • Zack

    Ok so I understand that I’m a harsh person… Probably a little too hardcore for the mainstream to accept but can I at least get you guys to admit that his league punishment was not even close to harsh enough and if anything it probably encourages steroid use? I mean, a pro athlete looks at a case like this and would probably think hey not only is it really hard to get caught doing steroids bit even if I do get caught I’ll only get suspended for 4 games and in the mean time I’ll elevate my game to an otherwise unachievable level… Low risk high reward. The only deterant for something like this is if when someone gets caught it severely hinders their career and hits their pocket very hard not a 20000 dollar fine im talking a serious hit as inost of their salary for a period of time. Most guys could recover from a 4 game suspension with minimal damage to their career so its a lame excuse for a disciplinary action.

  • SchenySchen

    Of course you give him a second chance. He so far has contributed nothing but he also costs next to nothing. You hang onto him with the expectation that he will improve during the offseason and be able to contribute upon his return. TT does, however, need to draft D-line this year. But that was reality whether Neal was suspended or not. GoPack!

  • CSS

    I have no issue with the criticism of Neal’s production or his misfortune related to his availability.

    I don’t know whether to call it naive or hypocritical when it comes to some of the criticism that’s a bit over the top related to his positive test for PED’s. Football fans want the athletes to heal faster, hit harder and have other-worldly stamina. The athletes feel the competitive and financial pressure to do so. Disappointment, sure. Righteous indignation? It’s crap.

    The NFL today is just like major league baseball while Sammy Sosa and Mark McGuire engaged in an epic home-run race which was saving the game from all-time low viewership following a strike. Nobody cared why the balls were flying out of the park at a record pace or how both players managed to stay so healthy and recover so quickly. They didn’t want to know.

    Then the hypocrites scream about the ‘sanctity of the game’ when it’s discovered PED’s played a role.

    Fans want faster availability, larger/stronger athletes and more speed. They only care about the ‘how’ when somebody’s caught.

    I’m a bit disappointed, sure. But the OH MY GOD responses, spare me.

    • Tarynfor 12

      If I’m getting you wrong here I’m sorry.

      “Fans want faster availability,larger/stronger athletes and more speed.They only care about the ‘how’when somebody’s caught.”

      The choice of the player to do steriods or whatever drug was a personal decision to increase/enhance HIS opportunity to get ahead of a fellow athlete being drafted into the NFL and to stay ahead once arrived.We fans are the beneficiaries of their choice yes,but we never asked or implied to them to do so.

      Apple Corp comes out with a new phone every 6 months because of money/sales/apps used to induce addiction of the customer
      for their pleasure and as with football players,they don’t ask us but justify it by our respone to it by participation/sales.

      Taking/using any drug to grow to these immense sizes we see today isn’t FAN driven but money driven by the player.
      Football was very enjoyable years ago before steriods and 6’4” 345lb guys running 4:78 fortys and would be again if the guys shrunk back to mere mortals with the loss of steriods in the game.

      What gets this fan mad,upset isn’t finding out what we/I all know/suspect,it’s the piss on us when they deny using/knowing it was ILLEGAL like we’re stupid.

      Don’t blame this on the fans,blame the asshole that gets caught and the ORG that wrist slaps them after telling the fans it’s a no tolerance league.

      Sorry for the rant and again if mistaken on your point.

      • CSS

        “If I’m getting you wrong here I’m sorry.”

        You are, I’m hardly blaming the fans for an athlete being ‘caught’. It’s the handful or responses that act ‘shocked’ or get self-righteous when there’s a positive test.

      • JRMD

        Better yet, blame the NFL! If they didn’t want drugs in their game, they would not be there. Look at the IOC! Those guys are like the Mossad when it comes to this stuff! With the technology that is out there it could be done. It’s the same reason illegal drugs are allowed to come into the US…secondary gain for the master’s of the universe…BIG TIME. You guys are going to act all hurt and angry because a giant defensive lineman gut busted juicing?! Are you serious? Are you as angry at you high school son’s teammates that also do it…or his friends that don’t even participate in sports that do, just to look big and mean? I am sorry but that is a disingenuous argument.IMO, humans have always used external substances to achieve a variety of physical, psychological, and cognitive effects. To imagine that these young athletes , who sacrifice their bodies in a manner that few on earth can imagine, would not use something to assist them is strange to me. If someone told you that if you took some “medication” on and off and that it might make you 10’s of extras of millions, none of you would be tempted to do so? What if you knew for a fact that %50-70 of he guys you were competing against were? Still no? I don’t know man, it’s easy to judge but we are talking about a shi* load of money in many of these cases. Don’t even get me started about MLB. Those guys can play so long and at such a high level that they will soon be able to purchase small countries if they choose. This moral indignation does just not acknowledge these extremely powerful realities and until any of you are faced with the pressure of those decisions, I would be cautious not to judge.Do I wish the game were clean and drug free? In a perfect world..I do. It’s just not that way because deep down, the powers that be do not want it so. It’s a waste of time to argue the morality of this. The guy got pinched…let’s move on. I am much more disappointed in his injuries and lack of production than I am about him getting popped for PED’s. If you guys only new how may of these guys used the stuff, you would have a more accurate perspective IMO.

  • Zack

    CSS, I’m not shocked that steroid use is going on and I didn’t get that impression from anyone else’s post that I’ve read so i think you have a gross misconception there. On the contrary I’m well aware that this stuff is probably more widespread than any of us know. I’m simply pissed that the league does so little to deter it especially in a case like this. Has not a lot to do with the player alot more to do with the punishment handed out. Instead of making an example they do next to nothing. So to your spare me the oh my god responses I say please spare me the I’m so wise you’re so naive rhetoric it’s very condescending and disrespectful. If you disagree then feel free to disagree but trying to make people feel inadequate for expressing their views is not the general spirit of the blogs that I’ve seen from the site and I’ve read your posts before you’re smart enough to make a point without doing that.

    • CSS

      If I disagree with you I’ll respond in line with you, how about that Zack. What makes you believe I’m even referencing you? I’m not, grow up.

      There are many blogs, radio programs and articles with comment, so what the hell makes you think my reference is to this blog only and this thread.

      Spare me the condescending lecture, it’s a bigger world than one thread, yourself included.

  • Zack

    I don’t care if you were responding to me or someone else it was in response/ defense to whoever you aimed it at. but maybe I was wrong maybe you can’t make a point without being insulting…

    • CSS

      I’ve read what I wrote five times, directed at nobody on this thread (no in-line comment/response) and can’t find anything insulting about calling dramatized overreactions read all over the internet for what they are.

      Where else have I recently been insulting on Al’s blog, Zack?

      • http://allgbp.com Jersey Al

        Ok boys.. this is approaching pointless argument time. I personally appreciate both your comments on this little corner of the internet. But it’s time to shift gears. And as Rodney King famously said, “Can’t we all just get along?”

  • Zack

    naturally I thought that your response was aimed at what people on this thread were saying… That’s kind of implied since you responded on this thread because why wouldn’t you just respond on that thread if it was aimed at a different one than this so unless you explicitly state that it’s not aimed at these responses then thats what people think and my response was in defense of anyone who prior to my posting this posted on this thread. I can’t speak in defense of the whole Internet so I apologize and didn’t mean for things to get as heated as they did. Anyway on a more positive note I think I’ve talked this subject into the ground to the point that I’m beating the cold rotting corpse of a horse so I’m officially hanging up my hat on this article so you guys won’t have to suffer through another of my “righteous” rants. On to the next article! :P