Packers general manager is a man of few words, and even fewer smiles. He isn’t a bombastic circus sideshow like owner/GM Jerry Jones. It’s never about Ted. It’s about the football. Yesterday, as free agency had just begun, Thompson had already proved he is shrewdly one of the best in the league.
He’ll never be one to act like a star-struck groupie willing to get herpes from an over-the-hill, washed-up rock star playing the local bingo hall like the organization on the other side of the Mississippi. He’s stingy when it comes to free agency, and there needs to be a specific need before he’s willing to enter into a bidding war with other teams. The Packers needed a leader in the secondary, and he pulled the trigger on Charles Woodson. Last year the defensive line needed some heft, and he signed Letroy Guion.
So when the Packers were mentioned and interested suitors yesterday in the Darelle Reavis speed dating saga, I had to laugh. He wouldn’t cross the $7 Million line for tackle Bryan Bulaga, and signed Randall Cobb for a hometown discount the day before. You really think he was going to pay a king’s ransom for a reconstructed knee and would even entertain paying a corner more than his MVP quarterback. Reavis is good, but he isn’t that good. There was no way Thompson would’ve payed $70 Million over 5 years. (Whether he was at the table to get other teams blow their entire cap may be another story.)
At the end of the day, Thompson held firm to his own philosophy regarding team building: draft and develop within. By retaining Cobb and Bulaga he did just that. Both are at the top of their game, healthy played critical roles in the Packers’ successful season last year. While Nelson was the media darling complete with a cover of Sports Illustrated, Cobb was right behind him in number of receptions, touchdowns and yards. He’s the bookend to an unstoppable tandem. Meanwhile Bulaga anchored the right side of the offensive line that made everything after the snap look easy. It was the most stable line in years, and there is something reassuring about all five returning to protect Aaron Rodgers in 2015.
And then there are the players that Thompson has chosen to not resign. Brandon Bostick became the sacrificial lamb after the implosion in Seattle. And Brad Jones followed closely behind. Not many were surprised with AJ Hawk’s departure either.
Yet many were surprised that the Packers did not retain corner back Davon House. While he showed promise, the organization obviously did not think his value was high as Jacksonville who landed him yesterday for $6.25 Million. Meanwhile other free agent CB Tramon Williams is reportedly visiting New Orleans. If he leaves as well, Sam Shields will be the only remaining cornerback that has started for any substantial length of time.
This would mean that the Packers would be down two previous starters at inside linebacker and two cornerbacks, each whom have started as well with no one on the roster to replace them. That said, it looks like Thompson and company will be replenishing its defense through the draft after investing in veteran offensive players. And it looks like Thompson’s plan is well-thought out and rather deliberate.
As I’ve written previously, with the 30th pick in the draft, the feeding frenzy for blue chip defensive lineman will have already occurred and the ILBs in the draft will be rising to the top of everyone’s draft boards. There’s a good chance UCLA’s Eric Kendricks or Miami’s Denzel Perryman will both still be available (sorry gang, I am just not that impressed with Benardrick McKinney.) There was no way Thompson was even going to attempt to bring in a linebacker through free agency, because let’s face it, the linebackers out there would be a lateral move compared to Hawk or Jones.
If the Packers take a linebacker in the first round, it would not be outlandish to pursue a cornerback in the second round. What would you rather have, a newly minted rookie CB with many years of strength and promise or a very expensive veteran with a retooled knee and an ego the size of small, corrupt South American nation?
Michigan State’s Trae Waynes is predicted to go in the first to second round. I suspect he will be gone unless the Packers trade up in the second round. Same goes for LSU’s Jalen Collins. Let’s face it, after those two, there’s no one I would consider a first round talent. But that’s not to say there is talent to be found later in the draft.
Miami of Ohio’s Quinten Rollins seems intriguing. Originally a basketball player, has transitioned to football fairly seamlessly. While he may be green compared to others in his class, he is malleable. He can turn on a dime and has a high football IQ.
If I had to pick between Washington’s Marcus Peters and FSU’s PJ Williams, I would pick Williams. Tall, physical and aggressive. He’s he may be too physical and will likely have a steep learning curve for the DPI penalties. But he makes up for it in ferocity and speed. Peters, on the other hand, scores higher. But let’s face it, he’s a complete hot mess. He was suspended from the team after he tantrumed like my 8 year-old and finally was asked to pack his bag and go for good after one too many issues with his behavior. Not exactly Packers People. He may potentially have the skills of a Darelle Reavis or even a Richard Sherman, but he sounds like a cancer to any team that drafts him. That red flag is enough to fall off the draft board. The team took a chance with Colt Lyerla last year, and the Fool Me Twice isn’t going to happen in Green Bay any time soon.
The NFL draft is only a few weeks away. I suspect this will be the next time the Packers do anything of any consequence. Draft and develop, that has been the Packers’ mantra throughout Thompson’s tenure. He’s retained his blue chip veterans and will start filling the holes in Chicago.--------------