Is Ted Thompson Closing Green Bay’s Window?

ALLGBP.com All Green Bay Packers All the Time
Ted Thompson
Thompson has once again been inactive during the early stages of the NFL’s free agency period

So here we are again in the midst of another free agency period in the NFL and the Green Bay Packers have been as active as a Koala bear in the dead of summer.  General Manager Ted Thompson has forged this reputation for sitting idle while most every other team (the Packers are one of just two teams who have not signed a free agent that was not on its own roster the year prior) has added a new player or two.

We shouldn’t be surprised as this has been Thompson’s M.O. for most of  his tenure in Green Bay, but judging by the fan response over the past week I’d have to say that many have allowed themselves to think that this offseason would be different.

Last offseason, the team added veteran center Jeff Saturday to replace the departed Scott Wells.  They also brought in veteran running back Cedric Benson in the middle of training camp to give the offensive backfield a boost.

It felt like old times again and reminded us of the returns that Green Bay had gained from bringing in such well-known talent as Charles Woodson and Ryan Pickett, to name a few.  If nothing else it signaled, in the minds of many, that Thompson was “trying” and wanted to keep the Packers window open for another Super Bowl title.

Many fans, myself included, felt that this may be a changing of the tide in Green Bay.  Maybe Thompson would change his stripes and start using free agency to plug the few holes that the Packers seem to have.  After all, one of the best positions you can be in as an NFL team is to have just a few needs that can be filled with one or two key acquisitions and some draft picks sprinkled in.

Well, a year later, we can look back and say that neither Saturday nor Benson panned out.  Neither will be on this year’s team and the Packers were, once again, eliminated in the Divisional round of the playoffs.  It was a disappointing loss and I’m not implying that Saturday or Benson’s lack of production was the reason for it.  Could some additional moves have made the difference and possibly gotten the Packers by the San Francisco 49ers?  Probably not.  Last year’s Packers team had many glaring deficiencies when it came to playing against some of the tougher and more sound teams in the league.  Those deficiencies included both players who will return to the team this year and some who have departed.

So it begs the question:  Is Ted Thompson allowing the Packers’ window of opportunity to close on competing for another championship with his lack of acquiring veteran free agents who can fill needs?  It’s a valid question given that the Packers have nearly $25 million in cap space to work with.

Earlier I mentioned how the Packers have, in recent years, tended to have just a few positions of real need each offseason and ripe for a veteran acquisition to fill that hole.  That was then and this is now.  In addition to Saturday and Benson, Green Bay has let go of Woodson and also lost Greg Jennings and Tom Crabtree to free agency.  They still haven’t replaced safety Nick Collins.  There is no clear answer at running back and there are still questions on the offensive line.  With this many need areas, the last thing that Thompson should be doing is breaking the bank to address each.  Doing so would be fiscally irresponsible.

We have seen many examples of free agents who don’t pan out and, as a result, are overpaid.  Yesterday on NFL Radio, New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft stated:

“…let me tell you what’s happened in the NFL this year: The top 25 (free-agent) players have received $700 million. How many Pro Bowls do any of you think cumulatively any of those players have gone to?  Six…so that tells you the trend has gone to signing young, up-and-coming players.”

Yes, some of these players are budding stars and will likely be in a Pro Bowl soon, but there is a big risk element in paying a player for potential.  Changing teams, as we know, is no guarantee that a player will flourish in that system.  Many times has a GM plucked a player away from his old team and implanted them onto their team’s current system only to see the player flop around like a fish out of water.

Thompson’s restraint in free agency should be lauded.  With the expiring contracts of key players such as Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews, BJ Raji and James Jones, coming up soon, the Packers have made a statement as to where their priorities lie.  Rodgers alone equates to wins for this team by himself.  We can argue as to whether it’s two or ten.  The point is, the team is set and will continue to be set at the most important position for several years to come.  That will keep them in contention and will also get more out of the other players on the team.

While the Packers have stuck largely with their own hand-picked players for the past many years, they have also been successful enough to have a chance to win it all year after year.  Just ask any Lions or Vikings fan if they would be happy with that.  Or Jaguars, Titans, Chiefs, Raiders or Browns.  The list could go on.  While those teams try to add that player to get them over the hump, the Packers are already and once again favored to be playing into this next January.

At this point and with the cream of the free agent crop all signed, sealed and delivered, don’t look for Thompson to make any noise.  He has already spoken loudest with his silence.  Next month’s draft will become Thompson’s breeding ground to address this team’s needs.  As I stated earlier, it’s more than just “a few”.  The draft will give the Packers at least six or seven chances to address some of those positions and cost them rather modestly (thanks to the new CBA rookie salary cap).  Minus round one, this lowers the risk and allows for a higher reward.  I’d have to say that an executive in any business that can accomplish that scenario would be applauded.

It’s entirely possible that Thompson missed this year’s free agent golden egg and “shoulda woulda coulda” will be our mantra by season’s end.  But based on what we know now, Thompson has avoided overspending at a time when the team can’t afford it.  To lose some of their core because of a selfish reach could set this team back further than any of us want to think about.

Instead, think playoffs and remember the old saying that relates to playing the lottery:  You can’t win (a Super Bowl) if you don’t play (get in).

 

——————

Jason Perone is an independent sports blogger writing about the Packers on AllGreenBayPackers.com

Follow Jason Perone:


              

——————


  • Tarynfor12

    Absolutely not! In fact,he’s keeping it open by not using the cesspool known as FA to be the apparatus to close it.
    We don’t really have $25 mill in cap space when you deduct what needs to be signed away for you know whom and using Benson and Saturday as FA signings to question what TT hasn’t done is wrong.Also,the Woodson and Pickett FA signings were of a totally different thinking as to the whys.
    Building and Tweaking…different mindsets.

    • Carmon

      Rodgers is getting paid just under 10 million so even if they went to 25 M per year it only hits the cap 15 M

    • Masspackerfan

      Thompson is an idiot! One Superbowl and everyone is ready to crown him the best GM ever. If you are looking to be 10 – 6 for the next 10 years, he’s your man! They had an opportunity to go on a run similar to the Patriots, but that costs too much. I’ve been a fan since 1965 and I’m sick and tired of one and done every 15 years.

      • Lucas

        It’s not one and done. It’s one and a chance for close to all of those 15 years. I suppose you enjoyed the 80s? No chance of superbowl. Not even close. I commend you for being a fan since ’65. Current fans have it so easy seeing a consistent contender.

        • Masspackerfan

          My point exactly. They spent the 80’s trying to do it all through the draft. How did they get back to contention in the 90’s? Does Brett Favre, Reggie White, Sean Jones, Andre Rison or Keith Jackson sound familiar.

          • billofaltoona

            It’s not that they depended on the draft that made the 80s Packers so bad, it was whom they drafted. After passing on Joe Montana in 1979, the Packers opened the 80s by drafting Bruce Clark who greeted the opportunity to play in Green Bay by by choosing to play in the CFL. He had made it clear prior to the draft he would not play in Green Bay. And who can forget weak-armed qb Rich Campbell, the #1 pick in 81. Ron Hallstrom, a guard, was ok but hardly worth the top pick in ’82. Tim Lewis was on the way to a promising career that was cut short by injury. He was picked in ’83. Then there was the eternally average Alphonso Carreker in in ’84. Ken Ruettgers was a good one in ’85, but he was followed by Kenneth Davis in ’86 who actually was better when he went to Buffalo later in his career. Brent Fullwood, who at times preferred disco to football, was the ’87 pick. Sterling Sharpe was the best in the decade in ’88 – and then there was 1989 and Tony Mandarich. Who needed Barry Sanders? Or Deion Sanders?
            Take a look at the full drafts on the 80s. Lots of quantity – not much quality.
            And by the way, there was no real free agency in the 80s so you either used the draft, trades, or street free agents.

            • Masspackerfan

              You keep making my points for me. You tell me how bad the drafting was in the 80’s, yet you insist it’s the way to go. There was no real free agency in the 60’s either, yet Lombardi seemed to be able to find wats to plug holes and improve outside the draft. The window to win championships is very small, it’s a win now league. If you just want to win more than you lose, you will be very happy for the next 10 years. I want more.

              • Lucas

                You are saying there is a parallel between the drafting of the 80s and now?

      • PatMc

        Vikings, Chicago and Detroit all have spent too much money chasing GB. GB didn’t spend as much and are the Vegas favored team to win the division and higher probability to win SB than the others.

        TT is still building the team and is not anywhere close to being done. For next decade the pack will be competing for the SB every year – as long as Arod is healthy.

  • Turophile

    One point worth considering is that I would be amazed if TT thought about ‘windows’. His job is to keep the team competitive in an ongoing fashion.

    That is not a mindset geared to a “Win it while we have Rodgers and don’t worry if we pay for it later”.

    Therefore you CAN argue he is closing the window a little bit by not spending more in veteran FA on specific years, but equally his financial prudence is keeping the window more open across other years.

    I’ll settle for consistency.

  • Lucas

    TT’s silence speaks of his confidence. There is no state of panic and window closing. Teams that sign like crazy to find “the missing piece” and go “all in” demonstrate how far they feel from being capable of winning it all.

    • Lucas

      Funny, guys, funny. I said the same thing for another article and it was “disliked”. Guess it’s all about proper wording.

  • Dobber

    Although, and this was something Al posted to FB, I think Urlacher would look great in Green and Gold.

    A difference maker who elevates the play of those around him and now has something to prove. He might come relatively cheaply for the opportunity to stick it to the Bears.

    Sure, he’s on the wrong side of 30, but if you can get two seasons out of him, it hedges your bets on Bishop and Smith, who are coming back from serious injuries. We keep talking about needing difference-makers on Defense…he could be that guy.

    • Tarynfor12

      Urlacher said the 1 year $2 mill was a “slap in the face”…Not sure what TT would offer with Urlacher NOT feeling another…”slap in the face”!

      • Dobber

        That’s not for me to speculate on…I mean, after all, what does the budget allow? Who knows.

        In general, we like to talk about adding FA who could make an impact on this team. He could do that. Bear bias aside, he makes the people around him better. Isn’t that what we’re asking for? If you could get him at 2yr/$7M, is he worth that?

    • Wagszilla

      I don’t even care that Urlacher is a former Bear but the fact is he’s old and slow.

      This defense needs to get younger, faster, and more physical. Total mismatch.

      Urlacher extended his career by using his football smarts, just like how Woodson did, but Father Time is tapping them both on the shoulder and telling them to hang it up.

    • Lucas

      Something tells me Urlacher, “as slow as he is” wouldn’t look as foolish against the read options of Kaepernick, RGII, Wilson, (and apparently Cutler) as Jones and Walden did. Maybe he’s played his last, but his instincts give him a chance to make a tackle, unlike what we witness out of our last playoff games.

      • PatMc

        As bad as you claim walden is, he got 16 million from Indy while Urlicker was only offered 2 million from his bears. He’s done.

        If I recall, GB won the game against wilson until the ref stole it. We haven’t played washington and Kaepernick will not be running wild next year when Bishop is back.

        Oh, Jones signed for 3 million a year and I trust TT to evaluate talent.

        • Lucas

          Walden is that bad. He’s not a loss. Prove me otherwise. He’s been that bad for a while, minus a few sacks against Chicago.

          We will be playing the QBs I mentioned in the upcoming season.

          Although I think the defense will be improved with Bishop, there’s no evidence to suggest he alone can stop Kaepernick.

          My only claim is that Urlacher has a ton more instincts than Walden ever will.

  • James david Marsh

    Dear TT, please “get it right” in this years draft. Like Seattle got it right with a 3rd rd QB, GB needs to find an OLB,ILB, DL, RB, OC, and WR in the first five rounds in no specific order, but get it right. Sign QB Rogers, OLB Mathews, & CB Shields this year and worry about Raji & company next year.

    • Tarynfor12

      “Dear TT, please “get it right” in this years draft. Like Seattle got it right with a 3rd rd QB”….

      So TT has been getting it wrong…

      I’m not bashing Russell Wilson but,lets see how much of a step back he takes in his 2nd season…I think he simply fit that system better than Flynn as did Kaep in SF over Smith.
      Lets see how he does when defense have had a whole off season to look at them.
      Just saying.

    • lmills

      Yes, beacause it’s that easy. Decide what “needs” you have, then find the players that are can’t miss players that fill those “needs”, then just wait for all those players to fall to you in each round. You want 6 players drafted THIS year that fill all those spots. Apparently being a GM is easy.

    • PatMc

      Jones just resigned. ILB is filled. Forget the old smelly bear. Jones also plays OLB. We need one more rushing OLB, DL, OC, RB and a with 5 NFL experienced WR’s we only need a development guy.

      In my opinion we need, C/G, OLB, S, DL and RB. TT will work the DRAFT as he has down and take care of the future of the francise. In TT I trust.

  • Savage57

    Here’s to TT for declining to partake in what generally turns out to be a fool’s game.

    Guy has some kinda faith in his decisions.

    • Stroh

      So true… So often teams like Det, Minn and others are in a race to sign big time FA that amount to nothing for the teams. Thompson is calculated in valueing FA and won’t overpay for underperformance.

      The man has his philosophy and his plan and he works it like a mother! Best GM in the NFL in my book and best for GB also.

    • yolds

      My first reaction after meeting TT and him dumping the sporting world on its head in Green Bay was lynch the sucka. After watching how TT has brought in talant and groomed them to be intricate parts of the Green Bay Packers I am impressed at his decision making and talent evaluating. TT will make sure we are competetitive for years to come.

  • http://fsw mac

    he could have gotten Adrian Wilson cheap

  • Hanged

    WOW!!!!!!!!! Jones is signed!!!!!!!
    Thank god!!! Super Bowl here we come!!!!!!!

    • PatMc

      Great teams need role players. Jones can spot start at ILB and OLB. He is on the team for the next 3 years at about 3 million per year. TT taking care of business the way TT does it.

      What FA signing has put that team into the SB? It takes a team of 53 players and it helps to have ARod!

  • Gary

    Kraft’s comment about free agency is stunning. If his facts are right (and I presume they are), expectations about free agents (as a whole) are way overblown.

  • Zeman

    Oh yeah, let me think. Who would I rather have? Urlacher or Hawk? As if its even reasonable to compare the both. Urlacher is old and lost a few steps, not the player he used to be, his best days are behind him, blah, blah blah. With all that being said; Hawk wouldn’t make a pimple on Urlacher’s ass.

    • PatMc

      Oh yeah? At least Hawk has a SB RING!!

      • Gruntmonkey

        By that logic our Back-up QB Harrel is a better QB than Marino ever was…. Pat, you may wanna rethink that.

  • waynerd

    Last year I was happy to see Saturday signed as a free agent, However, as I fill out my Packer’s mock draft it seems to have been a mistake. We would have a received another compensatory pick, probably a 4th rounder if we hadn’t signed him. This year we’ve lost 3 players in free agency and I hope we don’t sign any. Drafting players is the way to maintain quality at a cheap price over the long run.

  • Jeff

    Spending big money on free agents is a very risky proposition, especially in the NFL where your next play could be your last.Thompson tried to get a couple of guys,but he wanted them in the right price range as well.Most of the available players available were at or in their 30’s.As we saw with Benson and Saturday,playing at a high level and staying healthy gets harder the older you get.

  • majik7out

    TT will trade back for a couple more picks . Look for Finley to sign a long term contract this week ( 4 million bonus is due friday )or be cut. if he’s cut packers will take one of the TE’s in the draft who’s last name begins with an E.

  • http://Yardbarker Bob Thomas

    I think we have a decent backfield.The problem is if they have no holes in which to run, we could have Walter Peyton, and it would result in essentially the present situation. I would have held on to Jennings since there was some space money left.We just have got to be able to run the ball to make our passsing attack killer.