Thompson: 'Free agency will work itself out'

Feb. 21, 2014
Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson talks to reporters at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis on Friday morning.
Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson talks to reporters at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis on Friday morning. / Weston Hodkiewicz/Press-Gazette Media

The Green Bay Packers again will try to keep their free agents, general manager Ted Thompson said at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis on Friday morning.

Here are some highlights from his news conference:

Was drafting (quarterback Aaron) Rodgers in 2005 a reason why you scout all positions?

Right. At the same time, that year, whenever that year was, 2005, that would have never even been brought up in a conversation because everybody thought that things were going to fall a lot differently. But we had to still at the same time do our job and try to be prepared for that contingency. Not specifically for that one but whatever contingency. So there are too many unknowns for us to get really specific. And quite frankly, if we were going to get really specific, it wouldnít be good for the organization. Thereís proprietary information. I donít normally say a whole lot anyways.

Regret what happened at backup quarterback?

I donít think so. Things happen. We made some moves and people got hurt again. We finally were in a position to get Matt back and I thought Matt did a good job. Itís hard.Ē

More inclined to have a third quarterback on the roster?

I donít know that. Itíll depend where you are on the roster and the value you put on that particular player if it happens to be your quarterback. You weigh the costs of that.

Reaction to Missouri defensive star Michael Sam coming out as gay:

I havenít had much of one. I think thereís a lot to do about much of nothing. With the Packers and every one of these teams, what weíve been talking about the last 10 minutes since Iíve been standing here is how do we win and how do we do things? If someone can help us win games and be a good citizen, weíre fine with him.Ē

What do you ask players about?

Tell us about yourself, your family, how you grew up, how you get through college. If someone is an early-out junior, we usually ask them howíd you come to make that decision. That sort of thing. Then it goes from there.

What did you tell (Seattle Seahawks GM) John Schneider after the Super Bowl?

Yeah, we had a long talk down at the Senior Bowl. He brought that up. Thatís real. When you put your heart and soul into a team and then all of a sudden you leave, then all of a sudden that team has unusual success, you feel like Ďdarn it,í you know? Johnís done his own thing and heís done really well.

On how he balances veterans:

Thatís what you do, you weigh the alternatives. Making a decision to move on is always difficult, but you weigh the alternatives. Itís a personnel decision just like any other personnel decision, except for the fact youíre really attached to that player and the person, the family and the whole bit.

On how much he considers how a player will fit into locker room:

Itís one of the last things we talk about before we actually call the player and draft them, is, OK, where are we with this guy as a guy? I think itís probably because Iím a former player and Iíve actually been in a locker room and been part of that, I think the locker room is a special, special place. I know you guys get to go in there for interviews, but when itís just the players, thatís a whole different thing. Itís their home. Itís their place where they can go and be with friends or be by themselves, whichever one they want. But the locker room is an extraordinarily important part of the organization and I think your success.

Is there more pressure to avoid a miss this year?

First of all, we try not to let pressure into it. Weíre all grown people and we understand the business and we understand the importance of trying to get good young men that are good citizens and can come in and help the team win. But weíre not gonna belabor ourselves or take on the weight of the world in terms of pressure. It is what it is. Itís not an easy thing to do.

On underclassmen vs seniors:

I think as a general rule, guys that complete their eligibility in college are more prepared, more mature and ready to play in the NFL than underclassmen. By definition, most of the guys that come out as underclassmen are extraordinarily talented. Itís a horse a piece. An ideal situation for me, and Iím just speaking for myself as the general manager of the Packers, we would prefer that all the players would get their education, finish out their eligibility and I think theyíll be more prepared to play in the NFL. But thatís not to say that there arenít juniors who can come in and play competitively in the NFL. Some of them have great, long careers and everything is fine.

On his approach to free agency:

Well, weíve been working on it for quite some time.This goes back to kind of when the final rosters are set in September, thatís when our guys kind of start working on prospective free agency. Theyíre always doing it. Like I said, we donít dabble in it too much, but we take it seriously and if we find a way to make our team better, weíre going to get into it and do it.

Other highlights

♦ Free agency will work itself out. Thereís a number of guys, whether theyíre under contract or not, theyíll sort themselves out as we go along the spring.

♦ (Defensive end) Datone Jones worked into our sub-packages and weíre looking forward to him doing more next year.

♦ (Asked whether free-agent cornerback Sam Shields would receive the franchise tag.) We donít discuss that. In terms of free agents, itís no different year than it always is. A few more.

♦ Itís hard for me to rate drafts because you get so focused on the now. I donít think weíll know how deep or strong a draft is for a number of years. Certainly weíre excited to maybe add some players to our team.

♦ (Kansas City Chiefs GM) John Dorsey and (coach) Andy Reid had a great year. Weíre very happy for them. Heís a real scout in this day and age. Sometimes those are hard to time. Weíre proud of him.

♦ Itís hard to scout underclassmen. As we get to know them, weíll figure it out.

♦ The drills here and the drills at (colleges') pro days across the country are part of the evaluation process. The way they play the game and body of work theyíve done is probably important.

♦ In terms of free agency, thereís always going to be surprises. Itís been our policy that if we can, weíre going to try to keep our own free agents. As a whole the market is different from year-to-year.

♦ Sam Shields has been a good player for us. He does a good job. Heís one of the fellas heíd like to have back.

♦ (On draft strategy.) We take it player by player and try to make a good decision whether itís in the first round or sixth round. We try to keep it simple like that.

♦ (On tight ends.) I think the position is the same. People use tight ends differently. Thereís a different style of tight ends. Thereís some that lean more towards the blocking part and the receiving part. I donít know itís more difficult now than it was before.

♦ We donít talk much about the (salary) cap. We try to make football decisions. The more simple we can keep it the better off I am.

♦ The college game and high school game has opened up so much over the last 15, 20 years in terms of the brand of offense they are used to playing. I think itís a natural progression youíre going to have a group of receivers we have in this draft.

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