As if Ted Thompson hasn’t been stressing enough about this season.
Fourteen Packers’ contracts expire in the offseason and Thompson has to make some important decisions.
This season has been one of the worst of recent memory. I’m not saying that purely based on Green Bay’s record but also based on competitiveness of the entire team. There have clearly been moments when players mailed it in and took plays off this season.
The first expiring contract that comes to mind is James Jones. He’s been stricken with alligator arms ever since he became a Packer in 2007. Despite Aaron Rodgers’ insistence that Green Bay sign Jones in 2011, Rodgers still has been known to verbally dress down Jones for running the route or not hauling in a catchable pass.
Now I realize that ever since Jones was a Packer he has had to battle for catches. When he first got here out of San Jose State it was Donald Driver and now it’s Jordy Nelson. But he’s a 6-foot-1, 208-pound wideout and I’ve always said that he has to be more assertive in the offense instead of just letting the defense or the situation dictate how he plays.
Another guy that caught my attention was Andrew Quarless. I think it’s pretty safe to say that Jermichael Finley will not be a Packer in 2014 after suffering a devastating head injury that bruised his spinal cord. Most people thought that would leave the door open for Quarless to grab the tight end reins. But he has started six games this season and in those games he has caught just 12 passes. Very underwhelming numbers for a guy that had so much promise coming out of college as the career record holder for receptions by a tight end at Penn State.
When Finley was healthy, he proved how much this offense can thrive with a solid pass-catching tight end. The Packers do not have a dynamic tight end currently on the roster, which means Thompson is going to have to address that.
The final guy that Thompson needs to think about this offseason is Johnny Jolly. Now I didn’t think Jolly was going to produce after being out of the game for three years thanks to his codeine addiction. But he has been a big part of the defensive line and has exceeded expectations by starting six games.
But what separates Jolly is that hidden gem that you cannot measure. Because of his mistake that landed him in jail, the 30-year-old has been playing with a little bit of an attitude and a fire that’s more than needed on defense. Jolly isn’t afraid to call out a teammate if he knows he’s dogging it.
Thompson has been looking for a way to bring a swagger back to the defense ever since it evaporated when LeRoy Butler and Charles Woodson left the Packers. Jolly has that and his intangibles are monumental for a team that is perennially one of the youngest in the league.
This is a big offseason for Thompson. He must bolster a team that fell apart like a house of cards after Rodgers went down. He doesn’t just need to add competitiveness at a good price he also needs to add confidence. Because there aren’t a lot of free agents that will want to set up shop in Green Bay only to pack it in if the game’s No. 1 player goes down again.
The players may be getting ready for their golf games, but the Packers front office certainly is not. And that hit home when safety Jerron McMillian was cut — and he started a couple games this year.
Thompson will be giving every player extra attention to make sure either the player or position is being used properly. For example, if the Packers have a battering ram style running back, a fullback like John Kuhn seems pretty pointless.
Thompson has been rightly accused of being shrewd and short-sighted, but he’s also one of the best talent evaluators in the league.——————
Cory Jennerjohn is from Wisconsin and has been in sports media for over 10 years. To contact Cory e-mail him at jeobs -at- yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter: Cory Jennerjohn