General manager Ted Thompsonís approach to free agency is a hot topic among Green Bay Packers fans.
My support for Thompsonís approach in not engaging in bidding wars and overpaying for unrestricted free agents isnít shared by everyone in Packers Nation.
In another addition of Packers Talkback, I will publish the responses of several readers with varying opinions on Thompson and free agency, and as always, will offer my responses.
Keep those emails coming to firstname.lastname@example.org. I enjoy healthy debate and donít mind one bit if you adamantly disagree with my point of view.
Since I have received more emails than I can publish in one blog post, I will attempt to spread out your responses in the coming days. Thanks for reading and sharing your input.
I donít think any Packer fan wants Ted Thompson to spend ďstupid moneyĒ on anyone. What they want is a team made more competitive through free agency. When you essentially ignore free agency over a period of time your team is ignoring one tool that can be used to be more competitive. Especially when other teams are using that tool effectively.
The attendant problem is the poor results we have gotten from first-round draft picks over the past 5-6 years, and now it looks like you can almost add B.J. Raji (I still havenít lost hope on BJ) to the following list: Justin Harrell, Derek Sherrod, Bryan Bulaga, Nick Perry and Datone Jones. How many games did those guys play total last year?? You add the first three together and you get ZERO.
Letís look back at what Ron Wolf did for Brett Favre. The Packers acquired Reggie White, Santana Dotson and Sean Jones in free agency. Along with Seth Joyner, Eugene Robinson and Keith Jackson to fill roles as well as plugging in Earl Dotson and others on the O-line. Ted needs to do the same thing for Aaron Rodgers and get some players to fill gaps, and make this team better.
I watched the replay of the 2010 Super Bowl a short while ago and noticed the defense no longer had Cullen Jenkins, Desmond Bishop, Nick Collins and Charles Woodson. Who have they replaced those players with? Burnett, MD Jennings, inside linebacker of the week, Datone Jones and Nick Perry?? I donít see an impact player among that list.
You are not always going to find a Reggie White or a Charles Woodson in free agency and I fully expect the Packers to ďmissĒ on free agents just as ALL teams do. But it is the appearance that Ted isnít even trying to address Packer weaknesses through free agency, when it is unlikely they can ALL be addressed through the draft, that so irritates fans. He clearly has NEVER made a significant move via the trade route, which is another way to acquire players.
I have been a Packer fan for over half a century, suffered through the late 70s, all the 80s and the 90s pre-Holmgren. One thing I have come to observe is the rare talent of a player like Aaron Rodgers and I guess this year during the ďcollar bone periodĒ we all found out just what a difference he makes. Ted is squandering some of Aaronís best years and it will be a crime if he ends his career with one Super Bowl win, like Brett Favre. Ron Wolf said his biggest regret was the failure to surround Favre with more weapons; Tedís regret should not be that he failed to give Aaron a COMPETENT defense. Thanks.
There is no question Wolf was more aggressive in free agency, but the ultimate comparison with Thompson is that each has one Super Bowl victory on their resume. So was Wolfís way better than Thompsonís? If the Packers win another Super Bowl in the coming years, then I would argue Thompsonís path was more productive.
I donít disagree with you about Thompson needing to look at all options in upgrading his team, and I think he should be more active in free agency Ė in three of the past four years he signed no one.
But what I donít condone is the wild spending that takes place in the early days of unrestricted free agency, and Thompson is wise to keep a low profile during this time.
I know the fans in Denver probably love John Elway right now because he opted to upgrade his defense by going on a spending spree for pass rusher DeMarcus Ware, cornerback Aqib Talib and safety T.J. Ward. I know this type of approach is exactly what the anti-Ted Thompson contingent would love the Packers to do, and how the Broncos fare next season could be a fascinating case study in how or how not to rebuild your defense.
I happen to think Elway, out of desperation, spent way too much for Ware, who is past his prime, and Talib, who is injury prone. I could be wrong on this, but I think these moves could blow up in Elwayís face and he will be stuck paying for his mistakes for years to come.
Thompson, meanwhile, re-signed Sam Shields and Mike Neal, to which some skeptical Packers fans say: ďHow is this an upgrade by bringing back guys who played on a mediocre defense last season?Ē My response to that is, Shields and Neal are young and improving players and could make major contributions in the coming years.
Ed Fusakio, Kings Mills, Ohio
Thank you for your beautiful defense of Ted Thompsonís approach to building a team. You hit the nail on the head. I have been a Packer fan since í59. In the last 20 years there has been an increasingly more professional approach to building the Packer organization and the team. Coupled with the uniqueness of NE Wisconsin (lived in Appleton for 8 years in the Ď80ís), uniqueness in the form of strong family values, down to earth people etc., it is a winning combination and one that high character football players seem to appreciate. Ted will find a good answer.
It is Thompsonís responsibility to do what is best for the Packers and I think his draft-and-develop approach is sound. I would like to see him supplement that approach by being a little more active in the secondary free-agent market Ė a period after the initial spending sprees when decent players can be signed for reasonable prices.
As for bringing in high character players, that's all well and good, as long as they produce on the field. Sorry if that sounds harsh, but this is a bottom line business.
People think that Green Bay's last 2 wins in Super Bowl games were because of Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers. Of course, they were key BUT ...
It was two free agents that got them over the top -- both defensive players -- both unbelievable players. Reggie White and Charles Woodson!!
By adding White and Woodson, in my belief, not only made the defense better because of them, but also made Green Bay a place where higher quality players did not mind playing, like Sean Jones, Eugene Robinson, Desmond Howard, Andre Rison, and Keith Jackson.
In the NFL, there is a narrow period of opportunity to capture a Super Bowl, and Aaron Rodgers is not getting younger. Thompson needs to realize the opportunity lessens each year Rodgers (and Matthews) get older, and need to look for marquee free agents, preferably defensive players.
Green Bay was "really lucky" to get Rodgers in the draft, and the odds of getting the next good quarterback are slim to none! Thanks.
I would contend the Packersí window of opportunity to win a Super Bowl remains open as long as Aaron Rodgers performs at a high level, and barring major injuries, that will likely last for another 5-7 years, maybe more.
I donít think Thompson has to desperately throw money around in search of the missing defensive piece, as you suggest.
To win a Super Bowl, a team needs one or two difference makers Ė players that make their teammates better and can single-handedly carry teams on their shoulders. I believe the Packers have those players in Rodgers and Clay Matthews, who were signed to long-term, lucrative deals last year. I donít think Thompson gets enough credit for his ability to keep those two superstars and still maintain a very manageable salary cap.
Now Thompson must surround those difference makers with solid players at as many positions as possible. I donít think they need a Reggie White-type player, or a Charles Woodson-in-his-prime type player, to get over the top.
If they can find a credible safety opposite Morgan Burnett, a decent inside linebacker, a younger impact pass rusher on the line Ė and maybe they already have that lineman in Mike Daniels -- I happen to think the defense could be good enough to win a Super Bowl.
For every foolish dollar that Thompson doesnít spend in the early days of free agency, thatís more money he has to re-sign excellent receivers Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson, and that would be doing Rodgers a huge favor by keeping them in the fold.