Ted Thompson Could Learn Some Things From John Elway

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John Elway showed the Packers how it was done in Super Bowl XXXII. 16 years later, he might be showing them again.

Approximately 16 years ago, John Elway broke the hearts of the Green Bay Packers and their fans when his Denver Broncos upset them in a 31-24 victory in Super Bowl XXXII.

That loss has gone down as one of the bitterest defeats in the history of the Packers and the failure to win that game hastened the departure of head coach Mike Holmgren from Green Bay. Holmgren coached only one more season before leaving to become both the head coach and general manager of the Seattle Seahawks.

Elway meanwhile won his second straight ring the following year before retiring from pro football.  In 2011, not soon after the Packers won Super Bowl XLV, the Hall of Fame quarterback was hired by Denver to run their football operations.  It was a move that was criticized by many as Elway didn’t have much front office experience, aside from owning Colorado’s arena football team.

Much like in his playing days, Elway silenced his critics.  In his first year at the helm, he picked up the pieces from the disastrous tenure of Josh McDaniels as head coach and the Broncos won the AFC West title with Tim Tebow (TIM TEBOW!) at quarterback.  Denver even upset the then-defending AFC champion Steelers in the first round of the playoffs before falling to the Patriots.

Elway then of course signed Peyton Manning the following offseason and the rest is history.  With the Broncos on their way to Super Bowl XLVIII, many teams around the NFL will be looking at how Elway built his roster. Despite a recent run of success, the Green Bay Packers should be one of those teams.

While a full roster rebuild is not necessary in Green Bay, Packers general manager Ted Thompson would be wise to look at exactly how Elway has built the Broncos and how that could serve as a blueprint to get the Packers back in contention for a Super Bowl.

The common excuse for Elway’s detractors is “Oh, he has Peyton Manning.”  That’s true, but remember this team won the AFC West in 2011 with a quarterback whose throwing style resembles loose Jell-O. There is plenty of talent on the team even if you don’t count Manning.

Thompson of course has Rodgers. While the Packers’ quarterback is not in the twilight of his career like Manning is, Green Bay definitely does not and cannot let Rodgers’ prime go to waste.

Elway has built his team through a mix of both the draft and free agency.  He hit a home run with Von Miller in 2011 despite the linebacker’s off-field issues.   2011 second round  safety Rahim Moore has shown promise and tight end Julius Thomas, a tight end taken in the fourth round that same year, experienced a breakout season in 2013.

The Broncos traded out of the first round in 2012 but their second round selection defensive tackle Derek Wolfe had four sacks before an illness derailed his season this year.  They drafted quarterback Brock Osweiler as the heir apparent to Manning and he showed promise in mop up duty this season.

This year, Elway drafted running back Montee Ball who has come on strong late in the season and into the postseason after struggling early.

Elway doesn’t stick exclusively to the draft however, and one can argue that’s what has put Denver over the top this season.  Aside from signing Manning before the 2012 season, Elway signed Wes Welker away from New England this year as well as cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.  Rodgers-Cromartie in particular was considered “washed up” by many but thanks to an injury to Champ Bailey, Rodgers-Cromartie was a godsend for the Broncos this year.

Thompson, meanwhile, has stuck with his “draft and develop from within” from philosophy and it has generally served the Packers well.  Thompson’s shrewd drafting made the Packers one of the deepest teams in the league and their run through both 2010 and 2011 showed that.  The past two seasons however have exposed some glaring holes on the roster, particularly on the defensive side of the ball.

Thompson tried to fix this with linebacker Nick Perry in the first round in 2012 and defensive end Datone Jones in 2013.  Both have shown promise, but have been nowhere near the immediate contributors many fans, and possibly Thompson himself, hoped.  The team still has a gaping hole at safety since Nick Collins was lost with an injury and Thompson chose not to address the need with a high pick in either draft.

With Rodgers officially in the prime of his career, the Packers can no longer afford to sit and watch players develop while asking Rodgers to carry the whole team (not just the offense) on his back.  Thompson would be wise to take a page from Elway’s book and add some talent via both the draft and free agency.

Thompson has said that free agency is a crapshoot, but the draft perhaps even more so.  Just because a player has succeed in college is by no means a guarantee of success in the NFL (Tebow, anyone?).  With free agents, you at least have an idea of how they perform at the speed of the professional game.

The past few seasons have seen “In Ted We Trust” become a popular mantra amongst Packers fans.  Thanks in large part to a failure to fix the issues on the Packers defense that trust is beginning to be shaken.  While the team is still very well positioned to compete for the next several years,  adding a free agent or two to allow some of these young players to actually watch and learn instead of just being thrown into the fire would benefit the Packers immensely.

Sorry Ted, but it’s time to evolve.


Kris Burke is a sports writer covering the Green Bay Packers for AllGreenBayPackers.com and WTMJ in Milwaukee. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) and his work has been linked to by sites such as National Football Post and CBSSports.com.


79 thoughts on “Ted Thompson Could Learn Some Things From John Elway

  1. A lot of good points Kris. While I would like TT to expand his tool kit, I am not sure that we are apples to apples. Denver is primed for short term success, all chips in. They have a two year window with Manning then they will be rebuilding. We are built for a longer horizon. Unfortunately, we have missed a couple of draft picks and have run into two bad injury years.

    No doubt Ted could make some moves that would help push us over the edge. The Bronco signed Terrance Knighton and he was a difference maker. This is TT’s blindspot and it forces us to wait on draft and develop projects. The problem with this approach is that we potentially waste Rodger’s lifespan waiting.

    1. Excellent points Razer. I’ll take being built for the longer horizon (and making the playoffs five years in a row) over going all in and being Jacksonville and Cleveland for 4-5 years after that.

  2. “Evolve”?
    First of all, I think you’re completely missing some critical pieces of information. Have you ever heard of the “Cap” that teams are restricted on who they sign? I don’t know if Denver is giving money under the table to afford Peyton Manning or not. It was a good signing. So was Thompson when he signed Woodson, Pickett, and Sheilds. After signing FREE AGENTS A.Rogers and Clay Matthews last year, there wasn’t much more to spend on Free Agency. Anyone worth it anyway. It will be the same this year as the Cap hasn’t gone up that much. Rodgers and Matthews pay will count against that also. I don’t know what Kool-aid you and like minded FA nut’s that like to have the Packers over pay players in FA, but would you rather the Packers signed overpaid player like RB Stephen Jackson, and not draft Eddie Lacy?
    Look … “In Ted we Trust” I don’t know if I’m all in on that, because I see the flaws he has had also. I think he over paid players like Safety Morgan Burnett and hasn’t lived up to that pay. Also in the same way, you could argue Tramon Williams and Jermicheal Finley are overpaid, but at least has shown they could be worth the Cap money. Tramon came around this season, and Jermichael was tearing it up before he got injured.(again) Burnett hasn’t showed anything since his contract extension.
    In short the FA fans that parrot what your saying in this article, over and over again seem to have a hard time understanding that Thompson has to sign the Packer FA players then see if the market has players that are within Cap reason and WORTHY of signing… Not an easy task to do with the CAP. The examples of Denvers FA singings are not good ones because the Packers already had signed a FA QB in Rodgers, and has signed an older CB (Woodson). Learn something from John Elway? Eh…He hasn’t done enough as a Manager to show that to be true. If Denver wins their first Superbowl since Elway’s action, then I would say he’s learned from observing Thompson.

    1. Maybe Uncle Ted will work his magic in the Draft this year enough so we can beat 1 team next year with a winning record. That would be considered an improvement.

      Just think 9-7 would dominate the NFC North again and all would be well in Packerland that is until we get smoked in the playoffs by the next team that is going all in.

      1. Or they could go “all in” like Atlanta did in signing their big names in FA and go 4-12. Give me an example where a team signed a bunch of FA and won the Superbowl that same season.

        1. Ummmm, two of them are playing for the Championship this year. Free Agency is not meant to “Build” a team, but it’s a excellent tool to fix a few weak spots. Both Woodson and Pickett were signed years ago. I have news for you, the Packers don’t sniff the SB without those two in 2010. Just think, sign a Mid-Tier ILB and/or Safety, stay somewhat healthy and Whoola, the Packers are right there again.

  3. Clearly the Packers need help on the Defensive line and at line backer. Dipping into free agency would likely help. After the 2012 season I wanted them to sign Osi Umenyiora. Does anyone know how he faired for Atlanta this year?

    1. Haven’t looked up Osi’s stats, but having watched several Falcons games I’d say he wasn’t outstanding. However, the Falcons individual performances are as difficult to judge as GB’s this year due to all the injuries they suffered. ATL’s defense really took a hit when Kroy Biermann was lost for the season. I’d guess that Mike Daniels had just as good a year as Osi.

        1. …Or, Stephen Jackson for that matter. Two big, splashy FA signings. Wow, who of thought that wouldn’t work out.

    2. When you look at a single piece, like Osi Not-going-to-try-to-spell-his-last-name-ora, who played in NY with one of the better DL in the league, you have to expect that some of his productivity is a function of the players around him.

      Would Reggie White, arguably the best 4-3 DE to play the game, have been as good if he didn’t have Sean Jones on the other side and Gilbert clogging the middle?

      Some players have the ability to move and pick up those around them in their new digs. Osi had 7.5 sacks this season on a pretty porous and inept defense. He played well. Did he elevate the play of his teammates?

      That’s what the Packers need to find if they jump into FA: a guy who not only comes to play every week, but makes the others around him better. I don’t care what position that guy plays, but find that guy.

    3. Nobody mentioned anything about tier 1 FA. Look at 2nd tier FA that have worked..Dansby in SF vs Osi (tier 1). The ex giant (??Cant)lineman that GB brought in but did not sign went to ravens and had a GREAT yr (another tier 2 FA) Older players on 1or2yr deals come in knowing the window is closing so they tend to have great yrs. TT has not had great drafts lately which may be because he has lost some of his best evaluators. 12 is getting older…getting beat in 1st rd of playoffs with 12 is failure!

  4. I don’t know that it’s fair to anoint Elway for signing Rodgers-Cromartie. Elway was unable to predict Champ’s injury, and had he been wrong he would have devoted a significant piece of Denver’s salary cap. That was luck and shouldn’t be counted on.

    Ted’s policy appears to be as he says, that he will only jump on a free agent if he deems that player a bargain.

    Ted maybe even realize the liability we had at safety, but that’s why we signed Richardson. I’d rather miss on predicting a draft pick than miss on predicting a free agency acquisition. That’s expensive and hurts the cap. I realize free agents already understand the rigor of playing in the NFL, but that goes back to a judgement call about who is or isn’t a bargain. Ted’s judgement calls have satisfied me.

    Our teams are at different stages of their QB’s lifecycle, so it’s not fair to compare them the same way. We had an atypical rash of injuries, so it would be just to call out Ted. Now that our safety play has been exposed, I’m sure he will make efforts to remedy the situation. I can’t wait to watch.

  5. This article could have easily been written from the opposite premise: “Elway sells out Denver’s future in desperate attempt to win now”.

      1. Our fans would rather be One and Done for the next 6 years until Arod gets his ticket punched for Canton. At least we avoided salary cap issues however. Wouldn’t want to not be able to pay the Claymaker, thank god he was leading the defensive charge this year or where would our D have ended up – oh wait.

        1. That’s just crazy talk.

          As a Packers’ fan since the late ’50’s, I would rather the Packers seriously compete for championships, not just an invitation to the playoffs. My support for the team goes beyond getting any one player into the HOF. As should yours.

          1. Once you get into the playoffs, it becomes a new game of king of the hill. Having a team in the playoffs each year is Huge. Ya never know how the chips will fall once you’re in there!

        2. “Wouldn’t want to not be able to pay the Claymaker, thank god he was leading the defensive charge this year or where would our D have ended up – oh wait”

          …and you would have had TT just let him walk rather than paying him?

  6. i am on the fence with this. 1st do you try to do a quick fix with free agents. i do not know. do you try to build up the team, we had good and bad. i guess what we need to do is keep or sign older players who may have a year or two left and hope they can become a teacher to the youger players. could have kept woodson to show and tell for this year. it is a crapp game any way you look at it. just throw the dice and wish for a injury free year march on from there.

    1. Have we just fired all the coaches and staff and experimenting with any? Isn’t it the coaches that teach the players? Isn’t it the responsibility of the players to train and learn? There is something to be said for mentoring and having veteran leadership in the locker room, but players are not paid to teach.

  7. He could learn something from all of these teams.

    Broncos – What you listed.
    Niners – Strength & Conditioning and Nutrition.
    Seahawks – Stadium design.
    Patriots – The correct amount of blush and eyeliner to apply.

  8. The Packers need to hire ‘Mickey’ from Rocky….a few chickens to chase for speed,some string to teach footwork and an old fashion gym to get some ‘Eye of the Tiger’.

    1. You HAVE to be somewhat of an egomaniac to be in those leadership positions, whether it’s CEO of a fortune 500 or GM of a pro sports franchise. You have to WANT to make these team-building, team-making or team-breaking decisions.

      And, what’s more, you have to believe in some kind of guiding philosophy that governs how you do your job. I think this off-season will tell us whether that belief, in TTs case, is so overwhelming that it leads him to ignore some of the obvious things we all learned about this team this season.

  9. TT has swung and missed at S and ILB. Where else has he missed again? Injuries are the real culprit here.

    Can TT do better? Yes. Will history display him to be a better GM than Elway? YTBD – but color me skeptical on Elway just yet. Let’s see how long he sustains this success. Decker is gone after this year. His defense is no spring chicken either… after this year Denver is going to have to make some substantial changes.

  10. Many successful business models teach doing something different than everybody else. Others teach doing what everybody does, but do it better. TT subscribes more to the first idea. He likes to use the draft as the primary means of team building. Others do the FA thing. Both are proven methods. He’s not perfect and sometimes he makes mistakes, but so does every other GM, regardless of their philosophy. Were he to lose the integrity of his plan, the whole organization would lose faith. Seems like there are a few teams doing this today.

  11. The Packers have been in the playoffs for all but 2 years of TT’s tenure in GB. They are a top 5 betting choice for next year’s SB. They notion they are regressing or far away from the elite is not shared by the folks that put their money where their mouth is.

    I don’t think TT really needs to learn much of anything from anyone. What he needs to do is find a Safety and an ILB.

      1. Well, there is always a chance the Packers will sign a veteran FA, I suppose. It seems more Packer-esque to move Micah Hyde to Safety to take a shot at fixing that spot.

        I don’t think they have a reasonable shot at improving at ILB on the roster. I don’t know if there is a FA out there that would be much help, either. They need a guy that can run with receivers or spy on a mobile QB like Kaepernick. NFL teams don’t like to let those guys hit the open market.

        In the end, it doesn’t matter how it gets fixed as long as it gets fixed.

      2. I don’t think it’s impossible Ted won’t bring someone over to the Packers in free agency.

        The question is, who’s going to be out there, who has potential to do well, can the team afford him and the ‘good’ players we have that are up. Etc.

        If there is a year that it will happen it would be this year though, with nearly 20 contracts expiring.

        I wonder if it’s possible to pickup Jarius Byrd (provided he leaves Bills) and keep Sam Shields, but afford the bevvy of players needed to retool.

        Or you wonder if they let Sam walk, and they pick up Jarius Byrd or someone, or heck maybe they just move Hyde to safety. Lots of unknowns. Question is, is it worth letting Sam Shields walk to pick up another FA that’d cost just as much if you can only afford one or the other?

        1. I think the immediate future of Micah Hyde likely hinges on a combination of what happens to Shields, TWill, and in the draft. While there was erratic play at the CB position this year, getting Hayward back will help. Still, his lack of top-end speed means he’s best-suited for the slot (as he demonstrated) or maybe as a zone corner…which is the same description of Hyde.

          But losing one or both of Shields and Williams could force the Packers to go CB early and still potentially allow Hyde to move.

          Whatever the case, the Packers have plenty of holes to fill, and signing a capable FA allows one of those holes to be filled short-term while addressing other needs through the draft.

          1. Good points about the CB position. I like the idea of signing a mid-level FA CB if we lose Shields and/or Williams. I’m looking forward to seeing how the off-season unfolds.

    1. Gotta agree with Hank on finding a Safety and at least one new ILB. I’ll add a DT/NT to the wish list.

      Gotta agree with Charlie – any chance that we could take one of these needs off the table through a free agent pickup.

      Sounds like a win-win.

    2. It took the ass clown 9 years to figure out he needed a run game. 500 with AROD isn’t getting it done. One & out every year with AROD isn’t getting done. You are supporting failure. W/o AROD the GBP would be in basement of football similar to pre-Lombardi. Defense has sucked for most of TT’s tenure. Ditto when he was at SEA. Is there a common denominator here? Stop supporting management and starting supporting the GBP!

  12. Draft ILB C.J.Mosley, FS C.Fryor, DT D. Mc Cullers, DT R. Carrethers, S T. Brooks, and DT V. Morca. Sign CB S. Shields, OC E. Dietrick-Smith,TE A. Quarless and RB J. Starks. Then load up on UFA’s.

    1. I like it James and I will add a speedy WR to the mix. Nothing like adding a little downfield fuel to our offense.

      Make it so.

    2. I think EDS is a goner. TTs MO has always been to lock his linemen up on the early side rather than let them get to FA. The fact that he let EDS play on a one-year deal and there has been apparently no talk of his resigning–even from him–means that TTs going to let him test the waters. Maybe he comes back at a very cap-friendly price, but I suspect TT is willing to move forward with Tretter competing for that spot.

      1. I wonder how much confidence TT and MM have in replacing EDS with Tretter, Van Roten, or ???

        1. I think if they can sign EDS to a 4 year $16-18 million contract then go for it, any more than that and they can see what the have come training camp after free agency and the draft.

          If Sherrod and Bulaga can both come back healthy next year, and Sherrod can live up to his talent prior to his devastating injury, I wonder if they would consider having Bak play center? Just a thought of how to get your 5 best OL on the field.

  13. Actually TT should learn from his pupil, John Dorsey in Seattle, who used a blend of smart free agent pick ups (two Defensive Ends), the draft(Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman, etc.) and trades, Marshawn Lynch ( not proven yet is Percy Harvin) to build a Super Bowl team. TT is one dimensional and not using everything that is out there. Remember, he lost Cullen Jenkins after the Super Bowl and the defense wasn’t the same. Ron Wolf said at the time that his biggest regret was not resigning Sean Jones after the first Super Bowl win under Favre ( the defense was not as good after that) and hoped that TT does not regret letting Cullen Jenkins go (which is now a big regret)bc Packers probably win Super Bowl in Rodgers 15-1 season. TT is too mechanical.

    1. John Schneider is in Seattle. John Dorsey is in Kansas City. Best to get your facts straight before dissing TT.

  14. TT is an OLD DOG and MM is slow to adjust, those are the facts. Can you tell me that if Jack Del Rio took over the Packers he couldn’t do just as good a job as MM. He spent his coaching days in Jacksonville without a real QB. He’s the “D” coordinator on a team with Peton Manning. Funny how that “D” seems to be successful. So a coach who has Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers and backed into the only Super Bowl win (Philly’s punt return with under a minute left to beat the Giants and Detroit upsetting TB in the last game of the year) or this team would have already made changes at the top. Just look at the facts.

    1. That D has picked up its play in the postseason, but its regular season numbers were below average in the league.

  15. John Dorsey is the GM for Kansas City NOT Seattle. If you take the time to post at the least you could do would be to get your facts straight

  16. Teams keep picking off TTs and MMs staff. That is a great compliment to both of them about the Packers program. Strategically he has decided to manage the cap and in their era of offensive dominance he has built one of the best offenses in the NFL. Rather than spend cap money on questionable FAs he has spent the money on keeping the home grown stars Rodgers and CM3. TTs team has been in the playoffs 6 out of the last 7 seasons with a SB win. The Packers are the only team in the NFL that can make that claim. That doesn’t help us for 2013 but we could be a lot worse off. TT needs to get some talent at ILB, Safety and DL. Whether it’s the draft or FA doesn’t matter. Based on his record we can expect that he will manage the cap and find a few gems in the draft. Thanks, Since ’61

    1. Since ’61 said: ” TTs team has been in the playoffs 6 out of the last 7 seasons with a SB win.”

      The SB win was fantastic, but how many of the other five seasons were our playoff record one & done? How many of them were at Lambeau Field? I think that’s somewhat disappointing considering the great offense we have.

      I’m hoping for better in 2014. We’ll just have to wait and see…

      1. “The SB win was fantastic, but how many of the other five seasons were our playoff record one & done?”

        Three. So half the time the Packers advance. The other half they don’t.

        Location is immaterial to me. A loss is a loss.

      2. Jim – as usual we agree. We should have done better with our offense. This is why the defense must be improved and why I have been calling for Capers to go. As you say, we’ll about 2014. I hope our defense is better also, but with Capers still around I don’t have a lot of confidence. Thanks, Since ’61

    2. Nobody is complaining about our offense but that is only 1/3 of the team and most of that revolves around one player. Not much to show for 9 years on the job. Can we expect a real defense in another 9 years? And a ST nine years after that? See what I mean? To be great you must make it all happen in a limited time frame. TT is clearly not great. Teams have 1 chance in 16 of going to a SB. TT has been GM at SEA and GB about 16 years and he made it to the SB once (some would say by a miracle). That makes TT average at best based on HIS record. I would argue he is an average drafter at best and by not making use of trades and FA, he can’t keep up. Remember T-Day this year? Worst exhibition of football I can ever remember seeing in the NFL.

  17. All the people running the packers should be fired, from the top down. Then Greenbay will get back to their glory days.

  18. Here is the difference between the 4 NFL teams that were left and the Pack. Most of these signing were for 1-2 years and 1-2 Million per year.

    Seattle added FA DE Bennet, DE Avril, traded for DT Siliga, WR Harvin. Bennet 5th ranked DE, Avril 13th ranked DE, Siliga 29th ranked DT, Harvin hurt most of year. All signed to very modest short term contracts except for Harvin.

    Denver added FA G Vasquez, CB Cromartie, DE Phillips, WR Welker, DT Knighton, Vasquez 3rd ranked G, Cromartie 5th ranked CB, Phillips 18th ranked DE, Welker 30th ranked WR, Knighton 9th ranked DT. All modest short term contracts except for Vasquez, 4y 23.5m.

    San Fran added FA CB Asomugha, DE Dorsey, traded for WR Baldwin and Boldin. Asomugha was cut with a min contract. Dorsey 22nd ranked DT, Baldwin 161st WR, Boldin 9th WR. All very modest contracts, Boldwin 1yr left at 6m.

    NE added FA WR Amendola, S Wilson, traded for DT Sopoaga, RB Blount. Amendola ranked 34th WR, Wilson on IR, Sopoaga 129th DT, Blount 14th RB. All modest short term contracts except for Amendola 5y 28.5m.

    A good argument could be made that none of these teams would have made it to the final 4 without these transactions. Avril and Bennett were crucial to Seattle’s success. All 5 of Denver’s FA’s were crucial to their success. San Fran’s Dorsey had a big role on the D-Line and Bolden was crucial all year long and single-handedly beat the Packers in the first game. NE Amendola played a key role and Blount was crucial to their success late in the season.

    If TT has put as much effort into player personal other than drafting as these GM’s did, maybe the Pack would be in the SB!

  19. Your all missing the boat on this. No one is going to evolve no one is going to get help for MM super bowl ready Team. All the tickets are sold and TT and MM are good with what they have. If you want to change the program the packers are playing from in 2013 you would have had to start by dumping capers and rebuilding the defense. None of this will happen next year the packers will miss the play off’s then you will have their attention.

  20. David, except for Morgan Mundane, we are all aware that there is a CAP. It has been a few years since TT brought in a FA with an eye to starting that FA. And, No, TT does not have to sign GB’s FAs. He often overpays his own FAs, such as B. Jones, Hawk, Kuhn and Burnett (jury is still out on Burnett IMO), unless they are older, such as Barnett, Jenkins, Bishop (injury really). He hit on FAs Woodson, Pickett, Chillar, and missed on Marquand Manuel and Frank Walker.

    So, what many of us desire is for TT to look at some external FAs to plug gaping holes and to compare GB’s FAs to external FAs. If TT signs some external FAs, he will hit on some and miss on some, just like he will on draft choices.

    Although I keep reading that GB is in pretty good shape CAP-wise being something like $23 to $26 million under it, I don’t think GB is in that good shape versus the CAP, so I guess I agree with David and James in that regard. GB has 19 or so FAs, 10 of whom were starters/played a lot (Shields, EDS, J. Jones, Finley, Raji, Quarles, Pickett, Jolly, Neal, Starks and Neal (and in some ways Flynn). GB couldn’t re-sign the majority of those 11 & pay draft picks too. GB needs to re-sign EDS and probably Shields too, both for big increases that probably will chew up about $11 million, plus $6 million to sign draft picks, and needs to find 2 or 3 players for the D-line, at least 1 or 2 of whom have to start or play a lot (and stay healthy), plus find a safety, a TE, and an ILB, and maybe an OLB (Neal’s cap # was $920K last year – what is he worth as a FA?), and GB probably should extend Nelson, Cobb, and extend Bulaga if healthy or replace him, and consider what to do with Sherrod if he blossoms (the club option for 2015 is expensive!).

    There aren’t a lot of cuts GB can make that result is significant savings w/o leaving a lot of dead money. Cutting: T. Williams (7.5 mill saved under cap, $2 mill dead money); Hawk 1.9 save/ 3.2 dead); B. Jones (2mill saved, $2 mill dead); Bush 1.7 M saved- 333K dead. So, GB will have to draft very well, have some current players return to health and some blossom, and maybe sign 1 or 2 FAs, while losing a few luxuries like Starks and J. Jones, (and maybe Shields -gulp- or T. Williams).

    1. When people say a team is in good shape cap-wise, I think it’s commonly in comparison to other teams in the league. It’s one thing to let a player go in deference to another, but the Packers and TT are not likely to “slash and burn” the roster to make room for these guys.

      I don’t see EDS coming back. One or both of Raji and Pickett are gone. I don’t see Starks and Jones coming back with Harris/Franklin and Boykins waiting in the wings unless they do so under market. Finley saying that he’s going to try to make the big contract if he comes back makes him a tough sign. In the cases above, there’s a contingency already on the roster.

      This is where I look at some of the others (Hawk, BJones, TWill, even Bush) and think, “OK, you let them go but who takes their place?” Anyone who says the Packers can just draft and plug is probably the same person who things draft and plug doesn’t work. The savings on Hawk and Jones–dead money considered–is pretty small. One or both of those guys will be back. The Packers need to get TWill to redo his deal. All very fluid, and one signing among the FAs will have a domino effect among the others.

      1. I agree with all that you wrote except I think TT has to bring EDS back if at all feasible. I should think IDS could be signed for a cap # of $3 million or so. Not that expensive. If not, then he may walk. It may be that Hawk, B. Jones, Bush, Twill all re-work their contracts and some take pay cuts.

        TT needs to draft BPA from the front 7 or safety positions, i.e. the BPA from say Pryor, Ha Ha, Nix, Tuitt, C.J. Mosely, Hageman. Looks like there are 22 to 24 prospects with 1st round tags, so with some QBs taken and some reaches, it is possible that someone will drop. That being said, looks to me like this is a deeper draft with more than normal talent thru say the 1st 100 prospects. Might be a draft where trading back makes sense. 3 second round picks might look very good this year.

  21. A good coach and manager would have 3 rings with Aaron Rodgers right now. I don’t see another ring for Aaron with the assclowns we currently have in charge…

    1. No offense, Big T, but by saying this you trivialize the NFL. Ask Peyton Manning how many rings he has…in his very long NFL career he MIGHT get his second this season.

      1. Peyton chokes in the big games. Lets ask Tom Brady, Troy Aikman, Joe Montana, Steve Young, etc. etc.

        1. Be dismissive if you like, but maybe ARod chokes in the big games. In which case your argument doesn’t work.

          If you’re going to say that winning in the modern NFL (and Brady’s rings all come before the current CBA…and maybe even the one before that) is solely the function of having a great QB, there’s evidence to the contrary.

  22. Good article. I would say you at least need to spend a little bit in free agency or get a player via a draft pick trade (ala Boldin to SF for a 6th?) You can’t just rely on D & D anymore unless you hit on almost all your picks year to year. Teams like SF have been constantly upgrading via cheap trades or free agency, and GB is falling more behind.

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