It took just a shade under a decade for Ted Thompson and Co. to realize that sometimes they can benefit from not being passive when it comes to upgrading personnel from the outside. As I inferred the other day, the signing of Ahmad Brooks would be out of character for Thompson and Co. in a couple of ways
- A free agent signing occurring at the end of August instead of April
- Said free agent is someone that a moderate fan of the NFL has actually heard of.
Ahmad Brooks is no slouch. He has played at a Pro Bowl caliber for years. His release from the 49ers was a financial move to prepare the Bay Area for the future. They essentially tore a page out of the Packers’s management playbook, except they haven’t had a once-in-a-generation talent at quarterback for the past ten years where once in awhile they would be better off with a short-term investment or two.
Have the words from Aaron Rodgers about going “all in”after the NFC Championship Game last January finally resonated in the ears of the decision makers? The activity this offseason suggests so. Although a Pro Bowl guard in T.J. Lang was cut loose, management doubled down by gifting Rodgers with weapons at tight end in Martellus Bennett and Lance Kendricks. Free agency also added depth in the secondary (Davon House) and defensive line (Ricky Jean-Francois) followed by additional young talent in the secondary (Kevin King and Josh Jones). This has likely been the most active offseason in the Thompson/Rodgers era.
Brooks’s signing also indicates that the Packers may have finally learned they can’t always bank on young, raw players being able to fulfill the “next man up” mantra with nary an issue. Everyone who remembers the 1996 season remembers Andre Rison being picked up off the street when injuries decimated the receivers. Does an unseasoned rookie react to Brett Favre’s audible on the first drive of the Super Bowl and duck walk into the end zone like Rison did? Maybe, but chances are better with a seasoned vet with Pro Bowl experience.
Behind Mike Daniels, Brooks is undoubtedly the most physical player on defense. Green Bay has been starving for a punishing linebacker since Clay Matthews’s photo started popping up on the sides of milk cartons. Brooks brings character questions to town, including a sexual assault case still working its way through the California courts. Many social media critics have stepped onto their worn out soapboxes to voice their displeasure at bringing a less-than-ideal citizen into town. Newsflash: NFL squads aren’t filled with choir boys. Winning teams employ a**holes. Actually, every company in the world with five or more people employs a**holes. Those who want to exhibit a holier-than-thou image behind the inconsequential guise of social media are free to do so. They are also free to join the intellectually lazy “guilty until proven innocent” mob. That’s perfectly fine. Due process shall take its course. If the glove does fit and they shall not acquit, then he should do his time. Chances are he’ll have left town by then anyway.
In the meantime, the majority of us are eager to see a desperately needed talent at the linebacker position come to work each week and contribute.
________________John Piotrowski is a UW-Eau Claire alum, spending most of his life in western WI. He makes the trek east to Lambeau whenever possible. Follow him on twitter at @piosGBP.