DJ Williams, Brandon Bostick, James Starks, Alex Green. All these names were brought up by the media and fans as possible trade bait that the Packers could dangle for future draft picks. Ultimately, none of that came to fruition as Bostick and Starks made the team while DJ Williams and Alex Green were cut and subsequently found homes in Jacksonville and New York. Some of you might be thinking, if the DJ Williams found a home in Jacksonville so quickly, why didn’t Thompson get a draft pick out of them? It does seem like every year fans and media alike gush about the depth that the Packers’ offseason roster contains and start day dreaming about how great a draft Ted Thompson could have if he had more draft picks. Overall Ted Thompson rarely trades players at all (save for the whole Brett Favre thing and the “tag and trade” of Corey Williams, and truth be told the odds are against Thompson in making trades right before the 53 man roster cut.
- The Packers are a stable organization: The Packers don’t have much turnover in their coaching staff or front office; sure coaches have left to for other teams and famously now 3 Ted Thompson disciples are GMs of their own teams, but the gradual loss of talent that the Packers have experienced is nothing like the building clearing clean sweep that some owners start after a couple dismal seasons. The offshoot of this is that the players on the Packers roster were picked and paid by the current GM. Everyone of the players on the team now are Thompson’s “guys” and he has a incentive to go protect them as much as he can. This isn’t a situation where the previous regime drafted a dominant 3-4 outside linebacker but the new coaching staff plays a 4-3 defense. From a transaction perspective, there aren’t attractive trading candidates that don’t fit the Packers scheme or philosophy. One famous example of this was when Denver hired Josh McDaniels was hired and proceeded to tear apart the team that Mike Shanahan had assembled including Jay Culter and Brandon Marshall, two players that typically would never see the trading block.
- The Packers develop players very well: Despite the panic that has recently gripped fans due to the “mess” at backup quarterback, the Packers have a very good reputation of developing players; every year a handful of late round and undrafted rookies make the team and become successful players for the Packers. There aren’t many situations where the Packers will let a player go that has gone on to have great success for another team. The only player I can think of is Vonta Leach, who ended up being a Pro Bowl caliber fullback, but other than that, the Packers have done a very good job assessing potential and keeping it in house.
- The Packers have a very stable cap situation: Ted Thompson was partially hired because he was good at keeping teams cap compliant and every since digging himself out of the cap hell left by Mike Sherman, Thompson has always kept the Packers as one of the most cap healthy teams in the NFL. This means there hasn’t been a situation where the team really wanted to keep a player but couldn’t afford to do so. This offseason alone, the Packers made Aaron Rodgers the highest paid player in the history of the NFL and Clay Matthews the highest paid linebacker but still have around $13 million should they want to lock up other players during the season.
- The Packers keep their own: Speaking of taking care of their own; the Packers are great at keeping talent they’ve developed at home, as most of the key players on the Packers roster were drafted, developed and have only played for Mike McCarthy and Ted Thompson. This often eliminates the need to trade for players as the Packers would rather develop their own players than trade for a player that was developed outside their system.
- All GMs value their draft picks: Ted Thompson is famously in love with his draft picks but really all teams now realize that drafting is the most consistent and successful method to fielding a great team every year. Other teams are just as guarded with their picks as Thompson is and you don’t often see players being traded for picks any more, especially bottom of the roster type players. Some players do get traded for a low round conditional pick, but usually that’s tied to playing time so very rarely do teams actually move picks for these transaction. As far as I can tell Ted Thompson’s last trade during the 53 man cut off was trading guard Caleb Schlauderaff to the Jets and fullback Quinn Johnson to the Titans for a conditional late round pick, but ultimately neither played enough to warrant a draft pick for the Packers.
- Fans and beat writers rate their own teams too highly: I’m sure you’ll still find fans in Oakland who think Al Davis was the greatest GM of all time, even when his deteriorating health caused some head-scratching decisions. As a fan who closely follows the Packers, I think were all surprised when the Packers cut “diamond in the rough” players; for instance I was surprised Tyrone Walker didn’t make the team (I predicted he would actually make the team). But as far as I can tell, he has yet to be signed to a team or practice squad, and every team has players that fans think could be the next big thing that doesn’t get past the roster cut. Simply put all of us think too highly of players the Packers have drafted and perhaps more importantly are scared to death that the Packers have mistakenly dropped a player that will go on to become a star somewhere else and defeat the Packers in a Super Bowl (if you are really paranoid at least). Keep in mind every fan and every beat writer does this, not just Packers fans, only since as Packers fans we don’t really follow the rest of the league as closely, we don’t hear about other teams as much. Keep in mind most GMs think that the bottom 3rd of every roster is largely replaceable.
I think in the end, it’s just wishful thinking from fans and the media alike that think the Packers, or any other team for the matter, will find a trading partner for their junk. Teams have a pretty good idea who will stick and who is likely to be cut, so why would you bother trading for a player when you can simply wait for him to be cut and sign him for potentially less money? A simple way to put it is if you would call Ted Thompson an idiot for trading away a 7th round pick to the Jets for say Brady Quinn, why do you think any other GM would be that stupid as well?——————
Thomas Hobbes is a staff writer for Jersey Al’s AllGreenBayPackers.com.