This is the time of year when many Green Bay Packers fans get out their pitchforks for general manager Ted Thompson.
If and when Thompson doesn’t sign an expensive free agent later today you will hear all the Thompson haters come out of their caves. The annual cries that he is cheap, arrogant and does not care about winning will fill your Twitter timeline.
Of course, none of that is remotely true. Thompson is far from a cheap general manager–he just doesn’t spend the money on the players who that particular crowd wants him too.
How can a cheap general manager make Aaron Rodgers the highest paid quarterback and Clay Matthews the highest paid outside linebacker in the same offseason? I can pretty much guarantee that those two players will do more for the Packers than any free agent they could have signed last offseason.
Former Packers Vice President of Player Finance Andrew Brandt tweeted that the Packers were 2nd in the NFL last season in cash spent. Thompson is just more comfortable spending that money on players that he drafted and is familiar with. He is willing to spend money when he sees a value, but he never sees that value in the first day of free agency when other teams are going crazy.
If there ever was a year for Thompson to spend in free agency it is this year. That does not mean he has to go crazy at 4 p.m. today, but he has to fill some of the many holes the Packers have right now. With about $28 million in cap space Thompson should be able to find some values that he thinks is worth it.
Seattle and Denver used free agency last offseason just how Thompson needs to use it now. They did not sign anybody in the first wave of free agency but found incredible values in guys like Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril, Tony McDaniel, Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie, Wes Welker and Terrance Knighton.
The notion that Thompson is arrogant also doesn’t make much sense. He believes in his way of building a team and sticks by it. That is what any general manager would do. Is he supposed to go against his beliefs just to appease the wishes of the fans? That is exactly the kind of thing that owners like Jerry Jones and Daniel Snyder do. They have certainly had limited success in recent seasons.
This doesn’t mean that Thompson is perfect because he is far from it. He overpaid some of his own players like Brad Jones, A.J. Hawk, Morgan Burnett and Mason Crosby. Also, he has missed on several first round picks lately. Injuries to Nick Perry, Derrick Sherrod and Bryan Bulaga haven’t helped, but that is the way it has been. He has been unable to fix a defense that has held the Packers back for a few years now.
You can say what you want about his style, but it is hard to argue with his overall success. Yes, there have been some tough playoff losses recently, but Thompson has consistently had the Packers in contention every season. There are only a few general managers in the NFL who can say that.
Packers fans need to look no further than their own division for bad management. The Lions, Bears and Vikings have spent tons of money on outside free agents to try to catch the Packers, and none of them have done it.
Vikings general manager Rick Spielman just gave $20 million guaranteed to a player in Everson Griffen who has started a grand total of one game in his career. Griffen has potential, but that is a baffling deal. There are many other examples of Spielman and the other general managers in the division wasting money like this.
There will be a lot of dumb money spent at 4 p.m. today. Thompson not spending that dumb money should be commended and not ridiculed.