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Packers Talkback: Thompson bashers need to chill

Mar. 12, 2014
 
Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson. File/Press-Gazette Media
Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson. File/Press-Gazette Media

Every March, without fail, some Green Bay Packers fans come out of the woodwork to bash general manager Ted Thompson for his lack of participation in unrestricted free agency.

While fat stacks (of cash) were flying in Day 1 of NFL free agency on Tuesday, with more than $1 billion of contract money allotted in the first 24 hours, Thompson stood pat and signed no player from another team.

Thompsonís reluctance to join the NFL free-agent bidding wars drives some impatient Packers fans crazy. Below is one example of the sentiment held by some in Packers Nation.

As always in my Packers Talkback blog posts, I will offer a response.

Ken Brunasky, Bridgevillle, Pa.

Hi Mike,

And, Ted Thompson will do everything within his power to make sure he doesn't go one dollar below 29 million... take that to the bank.

After making all kinds of noise and blustering how they were going to spend some money in FA on defensive linemen, it appears as though they are backing away from both Lamarr Houston and Arthur Jones... very disappointing. After Bennett re-signing with Seattle it looks like the Bears are going to do whatever they can to get Houston. Instead of aggressively going after him Ted is just going to let it happen.

WHY?

They could easily out-bid Chicago for his services because of all their cap space. Common sense tells me I'd much rather have Houston on my team, chasing Cutler twice a year, instead of him chasing my QB, A. Rodgers. But, that is what Ted does. He's more interested in saving money than improving his roster.

This team has so many needs on defense and also a need to replenish the WR position (REALLY thin after Nelson & Cobb) that there is no way possible to accomplish everything through the draft. Thompson could stand to learn something from John Schneider. It is sad.

The nucleus of this team is good enough that a couple of impact FA signings and a couple of impact rookie draft picks could make the Packers true Super Bowl contenders. Yet, the stingy Thompson is content to let the roster deteriorate while he pinches his pennies and fiddles on. Ted is going to force the same fate on Rodgers that he put Favre through.

I wish the Packers would fire him and get a real GM. I'd love to hear your thoughts. Regards.

My response

Thanks Ken for your passionate email, and you no doubt speak for a sizable number of Packers fans that are frustrated by Thompsonís inactivity in free agency. But I must respectfully disagree with your stance on this.

I believe, as Thompson does, that itís foolish to pay inflated prices for players that for one reason or another werenít retained by their former teams. I think Thompson is wise beyond his years to resist the temptation to start throwing money around like a drunken sailor.

I agree the Packersí defense probably has more holes than the draft can fill, which is why I think Thompson should let the market settle after the first few days of free agency and go shopping for some more reasonably priced talent.

I disagree with your premise that Thompson is stingy and his only goal is to save money. That makes no sense. Thompson receives no personal benefit from spending less money overall. He simply chooses to spend his allotted salary cap cash in a different way than many other GMs. That is, he likes to spend money to keep the best free agents on his own roster.

The contract Thompson doled out to cornerback Sam Shields (four years, $39 million) this past weekend was at or near the top of the list of deals given out in Day 1 of free agency. How can you accuse Thompson of being a cheapskate after what he gave Shields? The fact is, Thompson generally uses his cap money to retain the best free agents on his own roster, which isnít splashy but is in the best interest of the Packers over the long haul.

You mentioned receivers Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, who are two key cogs in the Packersí explosive offense but will become unrestricted free agents after the 2014 season. By not spending "stupid money" yesterday, Thompson has positioned himself to make offers to Nelson and Cobb in the coming year that will keep them in the fold.

You praised the Chicago Bears for their active participation in free agency. The last time I checked, the Packers won the NFC North the past three years, and the Bears were sitting home for the playoffs. The point is, teams donít win football games in March. They never have and never will.

Your wish that Thompson should be fired smacks of a toddler throwing a tantrum after his parents said he couldnít have a piece of candy.

Thompsonís approach is sound, and the Packersí record of success proves that. No other NFC team has qualified for the playoffs the last five years like the Packers.

Do the Packers have needs, particularly on defense? Absolutely. Should Thompson do a better job filling those voids than he did a year ago when he left the safety position wanting? Absolutely.

But the early portion of free agency, generally speaking, is not the best time to restock the cupboard. Letís allow the entire offseason to play out and see how Thompson addresses the Packersí needs before throwing him under the bus.

mvandermause@greenbaypressgazette.com and follow him on Twitter @MikeVandermause

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