24

March

Surviving Sunday: Packers News, Notes and Links for the Football Deprived

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Forgive me, Packers fans, I’m about to stick up for the Chicago Bears.

(*The author pauses for a moment to put on his bullet-proof vest, change the locks on his home, and take a deep breath*)

I have no problem with the Bears one year, $2 million contract offer to Brian Urlacher. I’m actually insulted that Urlacher called the offer “insulting.”

Football is a business. Good teams make roster decisions not to reward once-great players or keep local heroes around to appease the fanbase. Football has been trying to teach us this lesson over and over again, but most people will never learn it, or simply refuse to even try to learn it.

Urlacher was a free agent for the first time in 13 seasons. He’ll be 35 years old in May and he missed the last month of the 2012 season with a hamstring injury.

In the 12 games that Urlacher did play, Pro Football Focus graded him out positively in only three of them. He finished with an overall season grade of -11.3. Pro Football Focus is not the be-all, end-all of player evaluation, but from what I saw of Urlacher in 2012, a -11.3 seemed generous. I thought he was slow and a shadow of his former self.

Does a $2 million contract offer for a once-great, but now aging player coming off an injury and likely on the downswing of his career really sound that insulting to you?

It doesn’t to me.

To be fair, there are two counter-arguments to this: 1) Urlacher’s leadership means a lot and is worth more than $2 million, and 2) the Bears have next to nothing at middle linebacker now that Urlacher is gone.

I don’t know how much “leadership” is worth, especially for a player who is declining on the field. To me, not very much, but I’m not in an NFL locker room, so who knows?

Yes, it’s true that the Bears now have next to nothing at middle linebacker, but that’s still not a good enough reason to overpay for an aging player. Draft a rookie to develop. Find a younger player who could do what Urlacher did for a fraction of the price. Sign Brad Jones.

Word is, Jones wants about $4 million per season. Would you rather have a 26-year-old Brad Jones for between $3-4 million per season — a young player who could blossom and outperform the contract — or an over-the-hill Urlacher for one season at $3.5 million? (Urlacher reportedly countered the Bears $2 million offer with a $3.5 million offer.)

I’d take the younger guy.

Maybe I’m completely out of it and Urlacher is still a good player. Perhaps some team is going to offer him much more than $2 million. I don’t see it, but it wouldn’t be the first time I’d be wrong about something.

Until that happens, I’m going to stand firm and side with the Bears. A one year contract for $2 million was a fair offer for Urlacher at this point in his career. It was anything but “insulting.”

Now, I can’t end this piece by writing so glowingly about the Bears’ management. Where the Bears do deserve some criticism is how they handled this situation.

The Bears put out a news release announcing the split on Wednesday. I guess this caught Urlacher by surprise.

I wasn’t in the negotiating room when all of this was going on, so perhaps the Bears did propose something like this and Urlacher told them to buzz off, but here’s what I would have done if I were the Bears: Make the $2 million offer, once Urlacher declines, professionally inform him that that’s the best offer he will get from the Bears, leave it up to him how he wants the split announced (tearful news conference? simple news release? leaked selectively to favorable reporters?), move on with life.

Dropping a news release without Urlacher’s knowledge wasn’t cool, if Urlacher is truthful when he says that’s how it went down.

Either way, the Bears still suck. I mean, they really really really really really really suck.

Packers News Notes and Links

  • I wrote the Urlacher piece on Thursday morning, before Brad Jones resigned with the Packers for three years and $11.75 million. That’s about what I thought Jones would get. Yes, it’s pricey, but I have little problem with the signing. I like Jones’ versatility. But, man, football is a funny game (I suppose you could say the same about life in general). Six months ago Jones was a benchwarmer staring at free agency. Then D.J. Smith blew out his knee and Jones got a chance to start. He played ok, nothing special, but did enough to earn a major payday. If Smith doesn’t blow out his knee, Jones probably stays on the bench and signs a veteran minimum deal somewhere. Or maybe ends up out of football forever. I’m not saying Jones was rooting for one of his teammates to get hurt, but Smith’s knee injury sure changed Jones’ life.
  • Be sure to Vote for the Packers’ Sweet Sixteen – Picking the top 16 players on teh Packers’ roster.
  • Jason Wilde was a reporting machine at the NFL owners meetings in Phoenix this week. He’s posted several great items at his blog, including this one on Mike McCarthy’s thoughts about DuJuan Harris as a possible starting running back. I love Harris, but is he a starter? Something tells me we’re about to find out.
  • With Ted Thompson taking his usual stance on not signing free agents, Tyler Dunne writes about the urgency for the Packers younger players to develop. After you’re done reading Tyler’s story, be sure to check out his latest podcast with colleague Bob McGinn. Tyler and Bob’s podcast is an absolute must-listen for Packers fans.
  • Rob Demovsky was also at the owners meetings and wrote about Mike McCarthy challenging his defense to play better in big games. Yes, the defense was atrocious in playoff losses to the Giants and 49ers. There’s no sugar-coating that. But the defense’s struggles are also overshadowing the fact that Aaron Rodgers has also underperformed in both playoff losses.
  • John Rehor reminds us that the Trust in Ted mantra still holds true. After you’re done reading John’s post, be sure to listen to this podcast from the Packers Talk Radio Network on Green Bay’s wide receivers and this podcast about various other issues surrounding the Packers.
  • Acme Packing Company brings us up to date on what’s going on with Brad Jones. I’d also be interested to know if anyone is sniffing around restricted free agents Evan Dietrich-Smith or Sam Shields.

Non-Packers Links and Other Nonsense

  • There is a lot of interesting things going in the word of basketball stats and analytics. Zach Lowe wrote a fascinating piece about it for Grantland.
  • Jeff Garlin talking to Will Ferrell for an hour makes for an interesting podcast.
  • A professional wrestler is a hardcore Out of the Park Baseball fan. Cool.

 

 

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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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28 Responses to “Surviving Sunday: Packers News, Notes and Links for the Football Deprived”

  1. Razer says:

    I agree with you on the whole Bears/Urlacher thing. I don’t think that he is worth a multi-year or big contract but I do think that they could have handled this better. Their management have made some bad decisions and have shown some sketchy practices these last years. Having Culter and Marshall as the face of the franchise seems appropriate.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. Ron LC says:

    Who cares what the Bears do? It’s just another symptom of the no-growth cap. You’re seeing a degredation of the mid-tier vetran salary to accomodate the increase for the top-tier. Just ask Freeney (sp) et. al.

    The $4 mil per Jones salary must have been based on interest expressed by other teams. Shields could generate some interest but with a 2nd round tender it will be limited.

    EDS is not getting offers he hoped for. TT is sitting back and waiting to see if he can come back at the Packers price.

    The NFL is now a 12 month a year sport.

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  3. Lucas says:

    I’ve never reached elite athlete status, but is it possible Urlacher looked on the field to see Jay Cutler and thought, “I don’t believe he’s worth putting my body on the line. We’re not going anywhere with him (down the field, to the SB)”? I cannot imagine an athlete thinking alone those lines…but I can imagine it’s easier to sell out every play on defense when you see Aaron Rodgers leading your team.

    However, TT is probably skittish about “in memoriam” contracts after DD.

    Urlacher is hurting…perhaps hell hath no fury as a Bear scorned?

    Our younger ILB (Lattimore, Francios, Manning) need another year. Any drafter ILB would likely need time, too. From what I recall, ILB need slightly longer more time than normal to become starters.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    • Stroh says:

      The “in memorium” contract for DD was made due to Driver winning dancing and becoming a National figure. That put the Packers in a situation where they would face intensely poor public onslaught not too dissimilar to Favre. I said over and over last year that Driver had no reason for being on the roster even before the season started. IMO the Packers didn’t want another fiasco of the Favre situation.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  4. Tarynfor12 Tarynfor12 says:

    I have no qualms as to how the Bear/Urlacher parting went down.Players of the stature like Urlacher aren’t 100% vaccined against acting the jerk in talks and IMO,if he was asking $4 mill per,he may have said some things toward the new mgmt group when he was told don’t let the door hit you in the ass.

    I wonder if something like this would not have happened had Driver not accepted his $2 mill his last season..would he have been treated the same if he was asking Urlacher money…as a Packer fan I’d hope not but wouldn’t be upset if it did.

    As to how much Urlachers leadership is worth,well not $4 mill nor $2 mill as like I’ve said before,leaders cannot just cheer from the sideline,they need to lead in some decent capacity on the field.We saw and got nothing from Driver on the field and I will never believe his sideline pom-pom cheering had a positive effect and the same holds true for Urlacher now.

    If you’re buying leadership for your team,you’re not developing leaders and this is why losses will prevail.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  5. Nick Perry says:

    I’m curious and want to see what some of you think. Since Hawk has redone his contract would the Packers still take a big cap hit if he was cut? The other thing I was wondering if others think Manning is still a year away? I think he could come in and contribute on more than just special teams. I’d like to see a Bishop/Manning or Bishop/Jones or if Bishop is unable to come back and play close to his normal play, then Jones and Manning. Just thoughts on a Sunday morning.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • Dobber says:

      Hawk’s new contract (see recent cap article) all but guarantees him a roster spot in 2013, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to be on the field if he’s outplayed…

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. Dobber says:

    “Rob Demovsky was also at the owners meetings and wrote about Mike McCarthy challenging his defense to play better in big games. Yes, the defense was atrocious in playoff losses to the Giants and 49ers. There’s no sugar-coating that. But the defense’s struggles are also overshadowing the fact that Aaron Rodgers has also underperformed in both playoff losses.”

    This would bother me more if he had come up big and diced up the Giants and Niners during the regular season, but failed to come up big in the playoffs. In all, the assessment needs to be that physical defensive teams that can generate pressure on the passer with their downlinemen (and allow the defense to flood the field with DBs) will frustrate the current configuration of the Packers.

    A respectable running game that forces the opposing D to play base and ask their DL to play their run responsibilities will make a difference, I think.

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

  7. Stroh says:

    “Does a $2 million contract offer for a once-great, but now aging player coming off an injury and likely on the downswing of his career really sound that insulting to you?”

    It never does to me, but as a reminder the Packers did exactly that for Driver last year! And besides the salary we had to pay Driver, from what I read it may now be costing the Packers about 3M in dead money this season too.

    Driver winning Dancing put the Packers in an untenable situation last year and basically forced the Packers to pay him against their will for doing absolutly NOTHING last year.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

    • Stroh says:

      Its curious that now nobody thinks Urlacher is worth it for the bears, but last year everyone wanted Driver back to sit on the bench and earn his 3+M salary! LMAO

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

      • Tarynfor12 Tarynfor12 says:

        “but last year everyone wanted Driver back to sit on the bench and earn his 3+M salary!”

        NO..everyone didn’t want that.This was another issue I pounded the desk against then and will pound again in that the signing of DD last year was ..utterly stupid with absolutely no upside!

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

        • Stroh says:

          Well you and I are in the strict minority then. I would estimate about 90% of Packer fans on these Packer sites wanted Driver back no questions asked.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

          • Ron LC says:

            Apparently the Driver we got back was still better than the Gurley or Borel some wanted. Where are they now?

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

            • Stroh says:

              Apparently Boykin beat out Gurley and Borel. Either way they have little to do w/ Driver. Hell Boykin probably played more snaps than Driver last year.

              Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

          • Lucas says:

            90% of the Packer “fans” don’t visit this site, and that is a shame!

            A lot of DD fan club existed before we were certain of Cobb’s offensive knowledge. I can remember thinking, after the opening SF game, “Dang, we shouldn’t have signed DD.”

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

            • Adam Czech says:

              Who did the Packers cut or not sign in order to keep Driver? Probably nobody. TT loves having a bunch of WRs on the roster. Hell, he reportedly offered 11M to Jennings during the season and around 8M this offseason to try and keep him.

              And Driver costs the Packers nothing in dead money this season.

              Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

              • Stroh says:

                Last year was the first time the Packers kept 5 WR on the 53 man roster. Every other year they kept 5. Gurley and Borel were beat out by Boykin. Who would the Packers have kept? Probably a developmental player who would have cost about 3M less than Driver did. Maybe the CB Brandain Ross who played in 14 games for Oak.

                And if what I read is true Driver is costing GB 3M in dead money this year due to him being on the roster last year. Thats 3M that might be put to good use signing Rodgers, Matthews and Raji among others.

                Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

              • Stroh says:

                Kept 6 WR on the 53 man roster. Dang it…

                Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  8. Chad Toporski Chad Toporski says:

    Interesting article on Urlacher and his contract history:

    http://overthecap.com/looking-back-at-the-contractual-history-of-brian-urlacher/

    “Unfortunately for Urlacher he and his agent may have made some mistakes along the way which didn’t allow him the opportunity to be free at an age of 32 or 33 when he may have had a chance to earn more money. In 2003, after just 3 seasons in the NFL, he agreed to a 7 year extension that would keep him under contract in Chicago until he was 34 years old. With the landscape of the league changing Urlacher then tacked another year onto the deal in 2008 to bring his APY more in line with the rest of the NFL. This would not allow him to taste free agency until the season he was set to turn 35. Had they opted for a shorter extension early on he may not be in the situation he is in now trying to find a team in a soft market where no veteran players are finding homes.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • Tarynfor12 Tarynfor12 says:

      IMO,he wanted to be one of the few players to play his entire career with one team.That contract pretty much solidified that to happen.However,as with many an aged veteran,the acceptance that one is no longer what they were is placed in the ‘denial’ category.
      Our own ex-Packer Woodson,who I gather is finding out a truth himself yet,pouring a little wine into water doesnt make the water wine…just looks whinery.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  9. I think for the almost $12 million for a so/so lb, I would have preferred a still darn good ex St Louis running back

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    • Jersey Al Jersey Al says:

      Packers would have had to overpay to pry Jackson from going to Atlanta, his preferred destination all along.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1