Aaron's Answers: Russ Ball a quiet candidate

Aaron Nagler
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Throughout the offseason, I’ll be answering reader questions in a weekly mailbag here at If you’d like to submit a question in the future, just email me

Well, we’ve had a week of quotes from the Packers Power Trio of Mark Murphy, Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy, as well as plenty of headlines from the annual league meetings. Packers fans have questions and I’m here to attempt to provide some answers. Let’s get to it.

From Matt Fisher:

Let’s say these four players available at 29: ILB Zach Cunningham, RB Dalvin Cook, OG Forrest Lamp, and EDGE T.J. Watt. Who do the Packers take in your opinion? My opinion based on past reports on how the Packers value the ILB, RB and OG positions, I say the Packers would select Watt. Agree or disagree?

Aaron’s answer:

I tend to agree, Matt. While the Packers have indeed met with Dalvin Cook, I tend to think that’s more to do with regular due diligence than any heightened interest.

As for Lamp, as talented as he is and as solid a pro as I expect him to be, I would be absolutely shocked if Thompson used a first-round selection to take a guard. Looking at Green Bay’s starters along the offensive line, outside of Bryan Bulaga, there isn’t a single guy who was selected earlier than the fourth round.

That’s not to say Thompson can’t break the mold, but it does suggest they have a pretty decent system in place of finding starter-level talent all throughout the draft.

As you allude to in your question, Matt, Thompson never has put premium value on any of the three positions you highlight outside of edge rusher. Thompson has a pretty established history of “getting along” at inside linebacker and running back. The cutting of Josh Sitton and the refusal to pony up for T.J. Lang give you a clue on how he values the guard position.

All of this said, I really like Cunningham as a prospect and I have a feeling the Packers do as well. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was the pick at 29, but of the four you list here, I agree Watt would most likely get the call.

From Randal Saylor:

I feel Ted Thompson should be fired. He needs to be gone and Dom Capers too.

Aaron’s answer:

“Since brevity is the soul of wit. And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes, I will be brief:”

Mark Murphy has made it abundantly clear that Ted Thompson will finish out his contract, which reportedly runs through the 2018 draft. So you’re going to have to hang on for bit longer, Randal.

As for Dom Capers, I asked Mike McCarthy about his job security during my podcast at the combine. Capers isn’t going anywhere.

From Daniel Pauly:

I noticed a couple things watching Ted Thompson's and Mark Murphy's press conferences in Phoenix and was curious about your thoughts.

The first is that Mark Murphy repeatedly referred to what a good job "Ted and Russ" do, and not just in regards to contract negotiations and the cap, which has been Russ Ball's specialty. It may not mean anything for the future GM position, but I wonder if we're underrating the possibility of Ball becoming GM after Ted's contract is up? There may be stronger options in terms of scouting expertise but I can't think of other candidates who surpass Ball on the business side.

The second is that Ted repeatedly mentioned having a few more free-agency priorities. Is that a stock answer or do you think he's actually looking to break his 2006 free-agency record? It seems strange to comment publicly about wanting to get a few more things done before FA is over.

Aaron’s answer:

That’s some perceptive stuff, Daniel.

I have spoken with a couple of people within the organization who have said pretty much what you have here in regards to Russ Ball. While Eliot Wolf and Brian Gutekunst have had their names in the headlines while interviewing for gigs outside the organization, and our own Bob McGinn has floated a possible return by John Dorsey, Ball is, apparently quietly, a very real possibility to succeed Thompson as general manager.

Last August, McGinn wrote that Ball was “one of the most important anonymous people in the National Football League.” That piece is filled with quotes from Thompson praising Ball’s acumen as a personnel man. The possibility of Ball sliding into Thompson’s chair when he retires is very real.

As for Thompson mentioning free-agency priorities, I don’t doubt they still have their eyes on a few guys out there. As usual, they’ll bide their time and wait to see if they can find a bargain.

From Petroski14:

What harm is there to talking with Adrian Peterson?   No one says Thompson has to sign him, but who knows, if an offer is made he might just take it.

Aaron’s answer:

Let me flip this around for you. What benefit is there in talking to Adrian Peterson? He’s old, he’s coming off a significant injury, he wants to be p.a.i.d and he’s an awful fit for what the Packers do on offense.

Throw in the scrutiny the franchise undoubtedly would come under for bringing in someone with his recent off-the-field history, and I can’t think of a single reason the Packers should have anything to do with Peterson.

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