As a follow up to Part 1 of this series, Part 2 is a compilation of Ted Thompson’s worst moves as General Manager of the Green Bay Packers. Finding 10 things that Ted Thompson has done wrong in his career was a much more painstaking process than finding what he has done right. Without further ado, here they are:
1. Allen Barbre – Ted Thompson went into the 2009 season with Allen Barbre as his starting right tackle. During his starting stint Barbre may have been the worst right tackle in the history of the franchise. He allowed Jared Allen to sack Aaron Rodgers 7.5 times in two games, which was a huge factor in two of the Packers most painful losses of the last decade. Need more proof Barbre was awful? He allowed 5 sacks by Antwan Odom, who has only 23.5 sacks in his 7 year career.
2. Drafting Justin Harrell – Rarely has Ted Thompson completely whiffed in the first round of the draft, but he reached and whiffed badly with Harrell in 2007. Harrell tore his bicep tendon during his senior season at Tennessee and then showed up to his first training camp slightly out of shape. Following the bicep injury, Harrell injured his back and knee. Over four seasons as a packer Harrell participated in 14 games and made an impact in exactly none.
3. Signing Marquand Manuel – The first free agent to be signed by Ted Thompson was Safety Marquand Manuel. Ted Thompson signed his former Seattle player to a 5-year $10 million contract. The only issue with the signing was Manuel had the agility of an overweight and slightly ill hamster, and the speed of a run away sloth carrying a brick. He was cut one year into his 5-year contract.
4. Drafting Brian Brohm – The heralded Louisville quarterback was thought to be a possible first round talent by many draftniks as he entered his senior season. But a pedestrian year and an apparent lack of need at the QB position caused Brohm to fall through the cracks to the Packers with the 56th overall pick. Some people saw it as a waste considering the Packers’ numerous holes in their roster, others saw it as a good value (considering the Packers did not have a backup quarterback). After Brohm’s first preseason game Danny Wuerffel was seen laughing and hilariously imitating Brohm crow hopping to throw a ten yard out.
5. Not Re-signing Mike Wahle – When Ted Thompson became the GM he inherited an aging roster with salary cap issues. He allowed numerous big name players to leave the team via free agency including Wahle, Marco Rivera and Darren Sharper. But Thompson should have re-signed Mike Wahle who was only 27 years old and had started 64 consecutive games for the Packers. Wahle made the Pro Bowl in 2005 and it took Thompson 4 years to find a player of Wahle’s caliber at guard.
6. Releasing Anthony Smith – Anthony Smith was signed as a potential starting candidate at safety opposite Nick Collins. Smith appeared to have a spectacular preseason with multiple interceptions and impact plays. But apparently Thompson was not impressed and upset numerous fans when he cut Smith in favor of Aaron Rouse. But Rouse himself was cut two weeks into the season, leaving the Packers woefully thin at safety. Thompson basically admitted his mistake and put in a waiver claim for Smith, who was awarded to Jacksonville. To make matters worse, seven weeks later Thompson traded for the player he should have never cut in the first place.
7. Cutting Vonta Leach – This is a two-for-one special. Keeping three fullbacks on your roster in and of itself could be enough to land on this list, but considering that Thompson cut arguably the best pure fullback currently in the game, making his penchant for keeping an inordinate number of fullbacks even more egregious. If you say that Leach is not a good fit for the Packers’ system, then neither is draft pick Quinn “ManBearPig” Johnson who continues to take up a roster spot.
8. Ryan Longwell – Ted Thompson allowed Ryan Longwell to walk in free agency and sign with the most hated of all Packer rivals, the Minnesota Vikings. Longwell has a career field goal percentage of 83.5%, including over 92% the last two seasons with the Vikings. Contrast that with the Crosby(78.6%) and Dave Rayner(74.2%) and you can quickly see why this was a mistake. The Packers resigned Crosby (who is now one of the highest paid kickers in the league), but will he ever be as good as Longwell?
9. Offensive Line – Thompson has overhauled nearly every unit on the Packers with great success, except the offensive line. Thompson has drafted 13 offensive linemen and only one of them, Josh Sitton, has developed into an above-average player. The jury is still out on numerous players including first round picks Bryan Bulaga and Derek Sherrod. But if you want to find a weak point in Thompson’s draft track record, look no further than the offensive line.
10. Not Trading for Randy Moss – I have gone on record in the past as saying that I am glad Thompson did not acquire Moss. But you still have to look back and think, “What if?” As a friend of mine said when the Packers were rumored to be interested in Moss, “Moss is like the really hot girl that you date and all of your friends hate. You cannot stand to talk to her, she is high maintenance and has a really annoying laugh, but damn, look at that rack.” It would have been nice to see what the Brett Favre to Randy Moss combination would have looked like at that time.
Dan “FireMM” Blakley is a frequent commenter on AllGreenBayPackers.com. He has a knack for leaving intelligent comments with a decent dose of humor and self-deprecation. We enjoy his contributions.
45 thoughts on “The Best and Worst of Packers GM Ted Thompson – Part 2: The Misses”
Most of these are from before I became a football and realized I could use the web to keep up with the Pack here in Oregon. I always wondered why so many people hated TT but now I know. This list just goes to show how difficult it is to be a GM, and honestly this list is like a child’s boo-boo compared with the problems of so many other GM’s.
TT has done a fantastic job for the most part, and no one has had a better run over the last 6 years than thompson. But everyone has their faults. If I was a lions fan I probably would have had to make a list of 30 misses and one hit for Matt Millen.
Ha! Great pic al, by the way. I hope he does not read this. For some reason I could picture him waiting for me on my porch when I leave for work in the morning. I will keep a spot light on me at all times…you know, albinos are sensitive to light.
Two things good sir….I think the field goal percentage is a little misleading when 1 kicker kicks a minimum of 9 games in a dome per year and the other has to deal with November into January in Green Bay. Secondly, I believe the downside of having Moss on the Packers far and away outweighs the upside. The Pats with Moss didn’t win the Super Bowl, and the Packers without Moss were a Favre gaffe from the Super Bowl. I don’t see how McCarthy is able to keep the reigns on Favre with Moss on that team…. And you gotta admit that McCarthy did as good a job as Holmgren with reigning Favre in.
Looking back it was the right decision. But when Moss was breaking the single season TD record in NE and being a model citizen, you cannot tell me that a part of you did not want him to be on the packers.
Longwell kicked over 80% when he was with the packers as well. He had a couple down years, but overall was pretty good. Also, the dome helps, but all kickers kick in domes througout the season and the weather generally does not become a real issue until about week 8. Longwell is a better kicker than crosby has been up until this point.
I thought it was pretty well understood that Longwell refused the Packers offers, and insisted he would only play for a team with a domed stadium. You can’t pin that on Thompson.
I suppose Brohm had to make the list for how awful he turned out. I do remember scouts and analysts actually saying that Brohm was the most NFL ready qb in that draft.. WOW!!! Talk about a miss.
I liked Brohm when he was at Louisville. I wonder if something happened to him his senior season at Louisville that he tried to hide. It was unreal how weak his arm was, and it did not look that weak in Louisville.
Either way, spending a second round pick on a backup QB when you know what you have in A-rod is questionable. The fans were not sure about A-rod, but TT and MM saw him everyday in practice and knew he was good.
The saving grace this draft was Matt Flynn, who is probably as big of a win for Thompson as Brohm was of a fail.
I’m not sure that Barbre mess was on Ted as much as McCarthy. Someone will have to refresh my memory on whether there was an alternative to putting Barbre out there every Sunday.
I would add Klemm and O’Dwyer as 3a and 3b.
The Smith/Rouse thing was crazy.
Barbre’s backup was breno giacomini. that is on Thompson for not getting players for MM. MM has to go with the players on the roster. Barbre was not even close to a starting RT in this league, and it is on Thompson for not recognizing that. It was probably the most irresponsible thing that TT has done as GM and that is why it was #1 on the list.
Well done and very funny! Anybody who can work run-away sloth and ManBearPig references into an NFL article is all right with me! Danny Wuerfel making fun of Brohm’s arm strength is also golden. I forgive you for the slight of Nick Collins in your previous article…
Cutting punter Jon Ryan, who went on to lead the NFC as a punter while we struggled through Kapinos and Frost.
*Has* to be in the top ten. Certainly a bigger whiff than Moss.
Very well could be. In a way I just felt Moss needed to be on the list because of the ire TT received from the fans. Not having a punter is bad, but having the opportunity to sign a guy who went on the break the single season receiving TD mark could have had a bigger impact for the team.
The Moss thing is really 1/2 of a double barreled wipe out. To get the ammunition (picks) to trade for moss, TT had to trade down in the 1st for extra picks. When the trade down fell through, he used the 16th pick in the 1st round on Justin Harrell . . . .
So you could combine the Moss trade with the Harrell pick and sneak the punter error into your top ten.
a third round pick would have been enough to get moss. he had a second round pick, he did not have to trade down to get more picks. he may have liked to, but he did not have to.
I don’t see how you could mention Mike Wahle and Darren “4th&26” Sharper in the same sentence. The only mistake TT made with Sharper was keeping him as long as he did.
i hated sharper and that is why he was not included as a miss. he was just one of the big name FAs TT let go, but I had no problem with letting him go. Sharper would get 7 ints a year and 3 would be on hail mary’s. i remember another defender stepping in front of sharper for a pick and sharper was PISSED. he was a stat monger, but you could not depend on him when it counted. e.g. 4th and 26.
Don’t forget T.O. burning him in the 99 WC game. I know, it shouldn’t have mattered, because RICE FUMBLED!!!
Regarding Wahle, I believe TT offered him a contract that was essentially the same as Carolina’s offer(not positive about that though). When Carolina released him later TT showed no interest. For some reason I remember it was more Wahles desire to go to Carolina than it was TTs disinterest in him that led to his departure.
Like Barbre as the number one. However, I don’t know if it was TTs decision to actually start him. Isn’t that on the coaches(unless your saying they had no other option). And I don’t believe Barbre was a high draft choice.
Regarding Brohm it tells you something when Danny Wawful is mocking you.
Looking over your list brings back some painful memories that I had forgotten about (Rouse, Manuel)
Don’t know if I was ever interested in the Mossy rack.
Based on these mistakes we should kick TT to the curb(just kidding).
Part of being a GM is being a salesman. In my opinion TT should have gone to Wahle during the season and done whatever it took to keep him.
As I noted above, the backup to Barbre was Giacomini who was even worse. Tauscher may have saved TTs and MMs job that season. It was UUGGGGLLLYYYY before he came back. Barbre was a mid round pick, and a project. Workout warrior that just flat out sucked.
More on Barbre mistake. Ted made a second error at this point by not tying up Tauscher even though he was injured. He could have given him a minimum contract with incentives for starting and let him rehabilitate in the GB facilities. He was lucky that Tauscher was available half way through the season. And if Tauscher hadn’t played the last half of the 09 season, would the packers have won the Super Bowl? I’m thinking here of preventing injury to Rogers as well as the experience for the team playing in the first playoff game in 09. So not tying up Toucher, may have been potentially the biggest mistake Ted has ever made.
Good day! I know this is somewhat off topic but I was wondering if you knew where I could locate a captcha plugin for my comment form? I’m using the same blog platform as yours and I’m having trouble finding one? Thanks a lot!
There is no way ant guard, even Wahle, was ever worth a $10,000,000 salary in 2005. As a % of cap that would be the same as about $18 million today.
Do you really understand what a contract like that would have done to the team’s salary structure? Skill players and tackles expect to make *substantially more* than a guard. Where was that *more* supposed to come from?
As far as ‘selling’ Wahle on taking less staying in GB, its hard to ‘sell’ someone whose answer is always ‘no, I don’t want to renegotiate.’
At some point TT had to make a move, and in the case of Wahle that move was forced by necessity. Blaming someone for move that is forced by circumstance is pore0eminently unfair. Wahle does NOT belong on this list.
there is a big difference between actual dollars and cap dollars. especially at that time. I would cut TT more slack on this issue if he had a backup plan. his back up plan was o’dwyer who was awful. like i said, by year 2 of Wahles deal it did not look too bad for the panthers.
the contract that wahle signed was a 5 year 15 million dollar contract with a $10 million signing bonus. THe signing bonus is pro-rated over the length of the contract. That puts his cap number at roughly $4 million. (and that is if the base salaries are evenly distributed at $1 million per season, which is unlikely. at that time most teams back loaded deals.)
the cap in 2005 was approximately 85 million dollars. therefore wahles contract was 5% of the cap. not bad for a pro bowl level guard. to make it worse the next season the cap went up to 102.5 million. yup, $17 million increase. that takes his contract down to 4%. by 2008 the cap was $116 million. like i keep saying, a bad deal today is a good deal for the team tomorrow when revenues are increasing dramatically.
also, when players are up for a new deal they look at what happens across the league, not just on their own team. who did darelle revis base his negotiations on? nmandi and other top corners. not what a guard on his team gets paid. i will stick to my guns that letting wahle go was a miss. pro bowl guards are not easy to find.
If Wahle refused, he refused. For most players, it’s about the money…but not all. It’s like with Longwell: every so often, there is a player that just doesn’t want to play for Green Bay. Maybe the Pack can’t give them what they want because the Pack doesn’t have it to give. Maybe they have an axe to grind. Or, maybe their heart simply lies somewhere else. I often wonder if whether Rodgers will retire a Packer, or if he will, at some point, try to live out his boyhood fantasy of playing quarterback for the 49’ers in the Super Bowl.
The contract Wahle had *in place* at GB was for $10 million + per year. There wasn’t a negotiation going on there — all Wahle had to do was sit tight and force Thompson to pay an outrageous number or cut him. TT did the right thing. Even though it created a serious problem on the O-line that season, paying Wahle that amount would have harmed the franchise for years.
My Top 4 would go in this order:
1) Justin Harrell
2) Brian Brohm
3) Pat Lee
4) Brandon Jackson
TT, has obviously done more than enough to make up for these misses with later round picks and undrafted free agents, hence he is a superbowl winning GM.
the jury is still out on lee. the jury is pretty sure he sucks, but it is still out. Hard to put Brandon Jackson on there since he was a key player in the packers super bowl run. was he great? no. but he will play in the nfl for 8 or 9 years. i cannot consider him a bust.
Basically what we learn from the two lists is that Ted knows what he’s doing. His hits far outweigh the misses and it’s just sad that the Packers HAD to win the Super Bowl for him to be validated as a GM that knows what he’s doing. Sadly, some folks will never forgive him for the Favre fiasco even though it was absolutely the right move. Ted builds for now and for the future and I think we can finally put the baby to bed as far as Ted’s value and if he did the right thing.
GM’s will make their mistakes. The key is how they rectify them. TT ususally does ok in that area.
Unfortunately, the Oline has not been completely rectified yet. The Sherrod at LG experiment is in progress. It seems for what ever reason they want him as LG. Fine, he’s probably good enough. But from day one he is a LG, no swithcing if Cliffie goes down. Get TJ ready to play LT now. He get should almost all the snaps in the remaining pre-season games. What I saw of Newhouse is not very impressive. He was whipped bad in his series (plural) against Cleveland.
So, overall Oline still TT’s biggest miss. He’s made a good move forward over the last two years and he needs to continue.
Sherrod and Bulaga just have to be hits. Newhouse looks good, but two blue chip tackles that could play for the rest of Rodgers career would be amazing. Sounds like Lang has the inside track at LG…thank goodness.
Good list. Ted Thompson will probably do something along the way that will be criticized. That being said his management philosophy has always been draft, develope, and retain.
So when Thompson releases a player, you know its based on a Return on Investment (ROI). Cullen Jenkins is liked, but he is getting older and too much money for that kind of Risk.
Sorry Cullen, your busted goods for that money.
Now I know every year is different, but for the next couple of years the Packers are going to be known as a elite team because they always have young players with fresh legs. There is no mention of a “Window”.
If players in Cinci, Oakland or some other bad team going into a contract year and look at their prospects they will decide if they want to seek bigger money at average team or lower money on a elite team.
fortunately it looks like there will not be an open spot for a FA on this team over the next few years. The key to the success of the packers will be keeping their own young guys over the next few years. Raji, CM3, sitton, finley, shields, bulaga, sherrod, nelson etc. eventually everyone has to get paid. protecting this coaching staff, especially on the defensive side is huge. How Darren Perry does not have a DC job is unknown to me.
WOW, pretty convincing, but I still can’t go back to bashing “Albino Ted”, I’ve given him more than my share.
Now, after the SB victory, I’ve got to give him some benefit of the doubt due to his drafting of quality back-ups, which, according to your 2 article(s) (and last year’s SB victory) may be some of his best work. I’ll wait, but man, I guess he ain’t God after all!!
I am firmly in the Ted Thompson camp. I finally got on board about week 8 of last season. It was amazing how much depth he had piled on the roster. It just needed a year like last year to be really obvious.
I remember being an early TT disciple(because I’ve always preferred the draft & develop philosophy for all sports leagues, with a pinch of FAs sprinkled in. I think if done right, could lead to a long window of opportunity without spending a lot of dough). What always got me in trouble when trying to defend TT was Marquand Manuel. I don’t know if he was any good at any time in his career but Manuel sure sucked with the Pack. After a short while it was obvious I could not defend this selection. Your description of his physical attributes is hilarious and apt.
It was funny when the coaches would talk about Manuel in the preseason. All they ever said was, “he is a great communicator back there.” with collins, burnett, shields, tramon (the young guys) you always hear about their athleticism. how many times did i scream, “where the F are our safeties!!!!”
TT’s 3 worst moves? Jarrett Bush, Jarrett Bush, and Jarrett Bush.
jarrett was the best special teams player on the packers for the second half of last year…and he had a pick in the superbowl. hard to call that a worst move. i have come around on jarrett. i just do not want him playing on defense.
#1 Cutting Tracy White. End of post.
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