By this point, everyone should know how Ted Thompson operates.
He is not the type of General Manager prone to wild spending sprees to acquire the “big name” free agent. While some are quick to point out that the signings of Charles Woodson and Ryan Pickett are contradictory to this, it can be countered that Ted signed these players 7 years ago, at a time when the roster was so thin on talent, signing them was not only smart, but almost a necessity.
Since then, Thompson has stayed virtually silent in the free agent market. Oh, there have been signings, players such as Brandon Chillar and Jeff Saturday, signed to fill a void until younger players are ready to take over. But none of Ted’s signings since Woodson and Pickett have had the impact on the team these two players have had.
Ted loves the draft. Every player drafted is like a shiny new car with zero miles on them. The better the players he drafts do, the better he looks. Free agency to him is like buying a used car-it may look good on the surface, but you’re never really sure what you’re going to get.
That policy has worked up until now, but it might be time for Ted to take a look at a used car that may still have plenty of miles on him.
Since Cullen Jenkins walked away from the Packers following the 2010 season, the defense has struggled to provide any consistent pressure on the QB opposite Clay Matthews. There have been efforts made to rectify this problem-drafting Jerel Worthy and Nick Perry last year was the most notable attempt to fix this problem-but none of the efforts have produced the desired results. Granted Worthy and Perry were both injured last year, but this problem existed long before they joined the team.
Now that Jenkins is on the street again following his release by the Eagles, it might be time for Thompson to go get a “big name” free agent, which might go against his normal operating procedure, but may be a necessity at this point.
Jerel Worthy, drafted as the long sought replacement for Jenkins on the D Line, is recovering from an ACL tear which will undoubtedly delay his readiness until at least mid season. Do the Packers really want to enter the season down a defensive lineman? There is always the draft, and we know Ted loves the draft, but there are no guarantees a draft pick would be able to step in and provide the type of play Jenkins could.
There are two caution flags that need to be thrown with regards to signing Jenkins. The first is his age. At 32 years old, Jenkins is on the downside of his career. Would the Packers really want to have a 32 year old Jenkins and a 33 year old Ryan Pickett manning their defensive line? Seems to go against the modus operandi Thompson has crafted during his tenure in Green Bay. However, the loss of Worthy might be enough to persuade him to take a look at Jenkins, an older player, but still effective.
The second caution is Jenkins’ salary. Scheduled to make approximately $5 million in 2013 prior to his release, he would not come cheaply. Thompson would have to negotiate his salary to a reasonable dollar amount, and Jenkins would have to swallow a little pride and take a pay cut in order for this to happen. The fact that Jenkins has reportedly said that he would be interested in returning to the Packers can be seen as a good sign that this has the possibility of happening.
Constructing an NFL roster is like buying a car. Every player drafted is someone that you hope is the shiny, brand new car you saw in the lot and picked it out. But not every player needs to be the shiny brand new one. Sometimes, the used cars with a lot of miles on them work just as good if not better than the new ones. If Ted Thompson was smart, he would kick the tires on a player like Jenkins, a player who has a lot of miles on the tires but still runs just fine, while the new car (Worthy) is in the shop.
John Rehor is a staff writer at PackersTalk.com and co-host of Cheesehead Radio. To contact John follow him on Twitter @jrehor or email john firstname.lastname@example.org