Now I don’t want to totally dismiss anything that NFL writer and analyst Ian Rapoport said…but I don’t believe any of it.
For those that missed it, Rapoport said that the Packers could sign as many as five free agents to take advantage of the Packers nearly $28 million in cap space.
Anyone who has been around a stale Ted Thompson press conference knows that the Packers general manager prefers to assemble his team through the lower risk, higher reward of the draft, which actually suits a small-market team just fine.
The Packers have not and are not in a position to be like the Redskins or Cowboys who routinely throw money at free agents just because they can. Washington and Dallas are more suited to sign high-priced free agents because they can absorb more mistakes than a team like the Packers.
But that doesn’t mean the draft is an exact science either. There are guys like Brian Brohm, Justin Harrell and Javon Walker in every draft. Obviously the key is finding out which one truly loves the game of football and which one just loves being the star.
The most important free agent signing Thompson has made was Charles Woodson back in 2006. That pales in comparison to Ron Wolf who brought in the hallmark free agent of a generation in Reggie White and then smartly paired him with free agents Sean Jones and Santana Dotson.
Of course Thompson could try and lure the top defensive end in Greg Hardy who has said is looking for a “crapload of money.” Hardy and agent Drew Rosenhaus have already turned down a contract for four years and $32 million. The 25-year-old wants security after netting 15 sacks, which led to his first Pro Bowl bid.
But Thompson cannot do that because dropping that much this year will severely hamper Green Bay’s chances of signing both Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, whose contracts expire after the 2015 season.
Basically what Thompson has to weigh is Aaron Rodgers. The Packers’ best quarterbacking mind has a limited window of dominance. He will enter his seventh season as a starter next fall and will turn 31 next December. He has four years of being a game-changing quarterback in the NFL. In that time, the roster has to evolve. It not only has to get better around him, but also must prepare itself for Rodgers’ inevitable diminishing return.
The Packers have the 21st selection in the May draft. ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper has Green Bay taking Louisville junior safety Calivin Pryor and ESPN college football and NFL Draft analyst Todd McShay has the Packers taking senior Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert.
Both guys would present a huge value for a position that is parched for athleticism. The secondary has to get better and bigger with Calvin Johnson, Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery lurking as imposing targets to guard.
I could see Thompson wheel and deal on draft day rather than seeing him crack open the checkbook for a free agent. And with the expected departure of B.J. Raji, the guy that makes the most sense is Notre Dame senior defensive tackle Louis Nix III.
Just because the Packers have an influx of money to spend doesn’t mean they’ll spend it. Thompson has a pretty good track record of drafting high-quality players that aren’t averse to working hard and are not locker room problems.
Bringing in a free agent is different. A veteran may not want to take part in all of the team functions and traditions and may ultimately turn into a cancer. At least with a rookie, you can mold a kid into the way you want him to act and prepare for an NFL game because he’s never played in an NFL game before.
This won’t the first time Thompson will cross Go without spending the $200 and it will not be the last.——————
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