With Wednesday’s modest signing of “street free agent” safety Kyle Sebetic, who spent a week on the Giants practice squad last November, the Green Bay Packers became the last team in the league to sign a free agent who spent time with another NFL team.
Simply put it is not in their DNA to spend wildly on the open market for players who were unsigned and in some cases unwanted by their former teams.
The Packers hit home-runs on their own players when they re-signed key players Randall Cobb and Bryan Bulaga to team-friendly contracts and later added back-up QB Scott Tolzien. But that has been it and it drives some Packers fan nuts.
If any Packers fans thought that this year’s free agency would bring a loosening of the Packers purse-strings to lure tempting veteran free agents to Green Bay, they don’t know Ted Thompson very well. Or more accurately, they don’t remember the history of the Packers since Thompson took over in 2006.
Over the years the Packers have found that what glitters to others most often does not translate into gold for most.
The Packers know the value of their own veteran free agents who they prefer over those from other teams. They are acutely aware of the over spending that occurs with NFL team that have money, but little common-sense in the opening days of free agency. It is not the “Packers Way” to overspend.
Fear-not Packers fans your ‘free agents’ may already be on board.
Third-round defensive tackle Khyri Thornton and fifth-round wide receiver Jared Abbrederis were placed on injured reserve prior to the start of the season. Fourth-round linebacker Carl Bradford, sixth-round cornerback Demetri Goodson and seventh-round wide receiver Jeff Janis made the 2014, 53-player roster but found themselves on the inactive list nearly every game day.
Jason Wilde of ESPN-Milwaukee and Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel were in attendance when McCarthy met with a few select reporters at the NFL Meetings this week in Arizona and noted McCarthy’s remarks:
“I think Thornton has really turned the corner in the weight and conditioning part of it,” he said. “And Jared is here every day. So, he just has to get stronger, a little bigger. Everybody felt great about the way he showed in spring and the training camp he was having. So, yeah, definitely. It won’t be lack of work ethic, that’s for sure.”
“Yeah, I know (when) we drafted Carl, Ted felt pretty strongly that he was an outside linebacker,” McCarthy said, “and it really helps in our scheme if you train them outside to inside just because the way everything fits together, then the learning is seamless jumping in and out of certain personnel groups. That was the thinking early with Brad (Jones). Brad, Jamari (Lattimore) and Carl.”
“I’ve always focused on the guys who are here,” McCarthy told reporters in the lobby of the Arizona Biltmore hotel Sunday afternoon as he arrived for the annual NFL Meetings, which officially begin Monday morning. “I don’t get too caught-up on the could’ve, would’ve, should’ve and all that other stuff.”
“When it all shakes out, you lose some guys you hope to have back. But you just keep going,” McCarthy added.
“I’m excited about Casey,” McCarthy said. “He had his [2013 hamstring] injury, [but] he was able to get through the whole  season and finish strong. I think he’s got definitely a chance to take a step. Obviously with the loss of Tramon … there’s obviously a big opportunity there for all of our young corners.”
“I look at Tramon (Williams), he comes as practice squad and the way he worked and the type of man he is. A.J. and him both, they’re great husbands. They’re great fathers. They’re great representatives of the organization. They were very consistent, accountable. Tramon played three years with over 1,000 reps for us. You don’t just replace that.”
“With that being said, there’s a bunch of young guys who look at it as an opportunity. Maybe it’ll take a couple of guys to replace those guys, but that’s why you go to camp and that’s why you play the games,” McCarthy offered.
“You got to coach the ones that are here. You have to build it off the guys who are on the board right now,” McCarthy said. “That’s the way we’ve always done it.”
“Veteran free agency is still going on,” McCarthy said. “That will play out. We’ll see what happens between now and the draft. Obviously, we’ve put a lot into the draft. We rely on the draft as probably our prominent avenue of player acquisition….I’m not concerned.”
Of course with losing your players in free agency, comes the prospect of gaining additional draft picks during the following year’s draft. Many of those bonus picks have become contributors for the Packers.
Among the players the Packers have selected with compensatory picks are TE Richard Rodgers (3rd, 2014), WR Jared Abbrederis (5th, 2014), DE Josh Boyd (5th, 2013), DE Mike Daniels (fourth, 2012), S Jeron McMillian (fourth, 2012), CB Davon House (fourth, 2011), Newhouse (fifth, 2010), and Josh Sitton (fourth, 2008).
Packers fans have to admit that is a pretty impressive list. From the young, eager and hopefully talented group already on the roster, plus what promises to be another strong draft class, the brain-trust of the Green Bay Packers frets-not about developing future stars.
Should the team decide to participate in veteran free agency they have the resources to do so.
The web site overthecap.com has placed the Packers available salary cap room at $21,330,042. That is now the fifth highest of any team in the league – more than the Saints, Cowboys, Chiefs, Lions and Steelers combined.——————
Jeff Albrecht grew up just north of Green Bay and was lucky enough to attend some of the Lombardi Era classic games, like the 1962 championship and the Ice Bowl. Jeff went on to play HS football in the Green Bay area and College ball at UW - Stevens Point. Jeff is retired but still does some writing for his local paper. Jeff is a writer with AllGreenBayPackers.com and you can follow him on twitter at @pointerjeff .