As Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson sat patiently, presumably waiting for Tramon Williams to return home at a lower price after exploring potentially greener pastures, Williams signed with Cleveland for 3 years and $21 million.
Now the Packers are a man short at outside cornerback. Even though Williams turned 32 on Monday, he was coming off one of his better seasons and was thought to have plenty left in the tank to contribute to another Packers run at the Super Bowl.
That leaves Casey Hayward, Micah Hyde and Demetri Goodson as the front-runners to replace Williams on the outside. Hayward seems better suited for the slot. Hyde lacks the speed to be a true outside corner. And Goodson is a converted basketball player who barely made the 53-man roster out of training camp.
The Trust in Ted mantra is about to be tested.
It hasn’t been reported yet how much of Williams’ deal is guaranteed, but 3 years/$21 million is a lot of cash for a 32-year-old corner. But the Packers have plenty of salary cap space. It seems like if Thompson would have made a more aggressive push to bring Williams back, the Packers could’ve got him.
What exactly is Ted saving all that cap space for? Odds are he doesn’t have a different major free-agent signing up his sleeve. The Packers are also in decent salary cap shape for next offseason as the contracts for players like Mike Daniels come due.
Save for a four-minute meltdown in Seattle, the Packers were the best team in the NFL last season. Why not bring back one of the key veteran leaders on an improved defense for another run? Even if Thompson brought Williams back, he still could have drafted a corner and groomed him for 2016 or 2017.
Instead, Thompson sat back, likely waiting for Williams to come crawling back to Green Bay once he realized the market for his talent wasn’t what he thought it was. In this case Thompson was wrong, and now Williams is gone.
But Thompson sitting back and waiting for Williams instead of going out and getting him isn’t the only example of dilly-dallying at the cornerback position. Remember Jumal Rolle? He signed with Houston from the Packers’ practice squad back in October. Rolle was sitting on the practice squad even though the Packers had an open spot on the 53-man roster for two weeks.
According to Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Rolle bolted for Houston instead of accepting the Packers matching offer because he was sick of Green Bay jerking him around. With the Texans, Rolle had three interceptions in 10 games.
After a strong start to free agency that saw Thompson bring back Randall Cobb and Bryan Bulaga at below-market deals, watching Williams sign elsewhere after Davon House left for Jacksonville left fans a bit grumpy.
Ten months from now, will Thompson’s handling of the cornerback position be viewed as a complete botch in the realm of what he did at backup quarterback in 2013? Or will the Trust in Ted Mantra be re-affirmed once again, like it was in 2010 when an undrafted rookie former wide receiver turned cornerback named Sam Shields started as the Packers’ nickel corner and played an important role in helping the Packers win the Super Bowl?
If you need yet another reason to Trust in Ted, look no further than Tramon Williams himself. Williams was an undrafted player signed off another team’s practice squad. He went on to a caree in Green Bay that will land him in the Packers’ hall of fame.
To replace Tramon Williams, all Thompson has to do is, well, find another Tramon Williams.
It might seem like Thompson is dilly-dallying at the moment, but he’s probably hard at work finding the next cornerback who will overperform expectations. At least, I hope that’s what he’s doing…——————
Adam Czech is a a freelance sports reporter living in the Twin Cities and a proud supporter of American corn farmers. When not working, Adam is usually writing about, thinking about or worrying about the Packers. Follow Adam on Twitter. Twitter .