28

February

The Packers Should Release Donald Driver

Donald Driver

Donald Driver before playing the Broncos in October.

I hope I am wrong about every single point I make in this post. I hope sometime in the future, a commenter on this site or a blogger on another site uses this post to highlight how big of an idiot I am. I hope at some point next season, I have to warm up a big ‘ol plate of crow and eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Then re-heat it for a midnight snack.

NEWSFLASH: Donald Driver to compete on the next “Dancing with the Stars.”

I think the Packers should release Donald Driver. Not re-structure his contract or ask him to take a pay cut. Release him.

It’s time to move on and give more snaps to Randall Cobb or another young player not yet on the active roster.

I just slapped myself for writing that, but I believe it to be true.

I’ve heard several arguments in recent weeks highlighting why the Packers should keep Driver. I want to agree with them, but I cant. Here are some of those arguments and why they’re wrong:

The Packers need Driver’s leadership.
It’d be great to have Driver in the locker room, but here’s the thing about leadership that most fans don’t realize: If the teammates you’re trying to lead sense that you don’t have it any more, your effectiveness as a leader diminishes. It gets worse if teammates feel that you’re taking snaps from a younger, more deserving player, just because of your status as a “leader.” (Also, why can’t Greg Jennings assume that leadership role?)

Driver showed he can still play last season, but he rarely matched up against the other team’s top defensive backs. Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson and Jermichael Finley drew most of the defense’s attention. Is Driver still the Packers best option to exploit mismatches against linebackers or inferior dime backs? Or would Randall Cobb, James Jones or an upstart player not yet on the roster fare better in that role?

The Packers need to go with the latter option.

Driver was the only WR to show up in the playoff loss to the Giants.

That’s true. It’s also true that roster decisions should not be based on one game.

The Giants covered Driver with a linebacker all day. Any NFL receiver should make a few plays when consistently matched against a linebacker. I’m not trying to diminish Driver’s performance — he can’t control who guards him — but we need to look at the big picture.

Professional sports is littered with athletes who cashed in based off one or two strong performances in the postseason. Driver isn’t strictly a postseason darling, but that doesn’t mean his most recent playoff performance should carry extra weight while the Packers determine his future.

Driver does so much for the community, cutting him would be bad PR.
Yes, it would be bad PR. But there aren’t many successful general managers who heavily factor in public relations when making roster decisions. Ted Thompson has, ahem, previous experience in making unpopular decisions that might negatively affect the Packers’ image. The Packers came out OK after that particular situation.

Thompson has one job to do: Consistently put a winning football team on the field. That’s the best PR any franchise can get.

Conclusion
You’re not going to find many players easier to cheer for than Donald Driver. It’ll be weird not seeing him do his shimmy after a big catch or flash his smile when the TV cameras find him on the sideline.

I actually thought Driver was done when he took a direct hit to his knee against Denver last season. I was at the game and cringed watching him get carted back to the locker room. Vic Ketchman even came on the big screen during halftime to tell us that Driver definitely would not return to the game.

A couple minutes after Vic’s declaration, Driver trotted onto the field and warmed up for the second half. Later in the half, he caught a touchdown right in front of my section. It was Driver’s way of telling us that he wasn’t going to go out that easily.

I know Driver wants the opportunity to deliver that same message next season. I just don’t think it’s in the Packers best interest to give it to him.

(UPDATE: Apparently Donald Driver is set to appear on Dancing With the Stars. How will his shimmy score with the judges? Will he leap into the crowd after nailing a difficult move?)

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Adam Czech is a freelance reporter and a Packers fan living in the Twin Cities. Follow Adam on Twitter. Read more of Adam's writing on the Packers here.

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26 Responses to “The Packers Should Release Donald Driver”

  1. Tarynfor12 Tarynfor 12 says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

    Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 8

  2. JimR_in_DC says:

    Adam, you big idiot, what the heck are you thinking? ;) I’m a big idiot, too, as I completely agree with all the points you made. Good article about a sensitive subject for many fans. I wonder if trading DD is even a possibility.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3

  3. Pat McDonald says:

    Curious if re-structuring DD’s contract might actually save the Pack some $$$?

    Right now he has roster bonus, and 2.2 million (I think). If TT and DD re-do the contract, will the cap be impacted.

    Might be that DD is doing the Pack a favor by re-structuring and having the young pups beat him out in camp? Let them earn their spot and then the Pack saves cap money?

    Thoughts?

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

    • Adam Czech says:

      Good point on making the young guys earn it in camp. But if Driver restructures his deal, I have a hard time believing that the Packers would cut him during camp.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  4. Rick Racic says:

    Unpopular but accurate assessment of Donald Driver going forward. If the Packers have nobody to step up then, hey keep playing. The reality is that DD will keep the next generation receiver from playing time and will account for salary cap against the team.

    Tough position for Ted Thompson

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  5. John Rehor John Rehor says:

    IMO comes down to keeping Driver (twilight of his career) over Gurley/Borel (young players, who were given raises to stay on the practice squad rather than leaving)

    Very tough decision for Thompson.

    As difficult as it is to say, releasing Driver helps the future, by allowing players like Gurley, Borel, and whoever else may join the mix to develop. Driver has been an integral part of the Packers success for years, but his time is in the past. The future is now.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

    • Chad Toporski Chad Toporski says:

      The only other option is to keep 6 WRs on the 53-man roster; of course, I’m not sure how prudent that would be.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

      • Thomas Hobbes Thomas Hobbes says:

        Probably about as prudent as keeping 5 tight ends….wait

        Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

        • Bubbaloo says:

          The “Keep six receivers” thing doesn’t work for me. Add Gurley and Borel to the present 5, and that’s seven, so? I go back to what I said last August, James Jones has a trade friendly contract.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. Alex Spletz says:

    Some great points were made here. The leadership role for any team can change at any time and saying that’s why he should not be released is dumb. I follow Greg Jennings on twitter and he is extremely inspirational with his “BeGreat” slogan he has going on. He can inspire and help lead that team. I love DD and how he is a vet on the team and just don’t want to see him go. But I also don’t like to see him holding back potential just Bc he is a vet. No packer fan wants him to pack up and go but everyone got over hewhomustnotbenamed. Maybe dancing with the stars will make him young again and he can dominate with the packs next season!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  7. Ron LC says:

    I would love to see them find a way to keep DD another year. That said at $5.5 million this year and some young talent already available it appears that the Packers are facing a very difficult decision. All I ask is, make that decision with class.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  8. Chad Toporski Chad Toporski says:

    DD on Dancing with the Stars? I may just have to watch it now.

    This also adds to the parallels between him and Hines Ward. Hopefully he’ll be just as successful in the competition!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • Tarynfor12 Tarynfor 12 says:

      How have other active players faired after the DWTS?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      • Adam Czech says:

        I don’t watch the show, but wasn’t Hines Ward on last year? He was all but done this past season.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

        • Thomas Hobbes Thomas Hobbes says:

          Well the presumption probably is that if you are trying to get yourself on dancing with the stars, chances are good you’re close to calling it quits. You don’t see anyone in the prime of the careers going on for a reason.

          One other thing is that Driver and the Packers might already know what’s going to happen, for instance if Driver already knows that the Packers aren’t going to keep him, why not sign up for dancing with the stars? Might as well make some easy money where you don’t have linebackers trying to kill you every weekend

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

          • Oppy says:

            It’s also prime time media exposure to a national audience, geared towards showcasing the contestants’ personalities.. It’s a great way for a guy who is about to retire from football to get his face out there and dip his toe in the water, if he’s considering moving into any kind of mass media, broadcasting, acting, or a number of other things.. Great way to get yourself on the radar.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  9. Ross says:

    Is there a better option for a #5 WR?

    I would take an experienced, route-sure #5 over a rookie any day.

    Keep him, restructure his contract which he has said he is willing to do and move forward.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 3 Thumb down 4

  10. Chad Lundberg says:

    Adam, you are a complete moron for ever thinking this, and furthermore you ought to be dispelled from Packer Nation for even mentioning it.

    That being said, you are correct. Yeah, it breaks my balls to say it, but Driver needs to go. So I’m just as much a moron as you are.

    Yeah he got better later into the season, but he’s only getting older. I would ONLY keep him under the circumstances of reducing his paycheck. By like, A LOT.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  11. nick perry says:

    THANK YOU!!! I love Donald Driver and what he’s meant to the Packers. He’s been truly great. I also think he’s going to hit a point where his mind says yes, his body says no, and embarrassment is the reality. That would be a shame! The time is now.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  12. Steve Cheez says:

    Best possible scenario: DD wins DWTS, but tweaks his knee in the final dance and retires.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  13. I do trust all of the ideas you’ve introduced to your post. They are really convincing and can certainly work. Nonetheless, the posts are very short for newbies. Could you please lengthen them a bit from next time? Thank you for the post.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  14. Dan "FireMMNow" Blakley FireMMNow says:

    Convince him to retire, or cut him. The fifth WR spot should be for a young guy with talent.

    Leaders: Rodgers, Jennings, CM3, Sitton, Woodson, Pickett etc. can pick up the slack. This team has plenty of leadership.

    Being sentimental leads to mediocrity. I think the last time TT moved past an aging fan favorite it worked out okay.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  15. Robert says:

    Ted Thompson had no problem letting go of Favre when he wanted to move on with Rodgers. This should not be a hard decision to make. Some may argue DD still has enough in the tank to contribute which I dont disagree with, although the same claim could have been made in Bretts case as well. I think its time to let the younger players play. They don’t have to cut Driver, they could trade him.

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  16. [...] Gurley And we had such high hopes. This made so much sense when I wrote it a couple months ago. Not any more. Gurley was injured early in [...]

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