It seemed to me to be a no-brainer. The Packers have no one on their roster with more than minimal NFL experience as a center. Before yesterday, there were 19 players on the NFL Free Agent Tracker listed at the center position. Surely Ted would be looking to bring in an inexpensive player with real experience at center in case the JC Tretter conversion doesn’t work out.
Well, Ted has done nothing yet and now there are 18 centers on the market, with arguably the best of the bunch now off the board.
The NFC North Division rival Bears signed former Saints starting center Brian De La Puente on Sunday. De La Puente was a guy I had on my radar as the best target for Ted Thompson to bring in as cheap veteran insurance. Only I had no idea how cheap.
The Bears signed De La Puente for a veteran minimum contract ($735K for a player with 4 years experience) with a $65,000 signing bonus and only $100,00 in guaranteed money. That’s quite a bargain for a player ranked as the fifth best center in the NFL over the last three seasons, according to ProFootballFocus.com.
Still young at only 28yrs old, De La Puente turned down the Lions and the Saints to join the Bears and his old offensive line coach Aaron Kromer. While that makes sense, it is odd that he joins a team where he is expected to be a backup, not a starter. Certainly a team like the Packers could have offered him a better opportunity to win a starting job. But apparently, that offer never came.
With how inexpensively De La Puente came, one can’t say the Packers (Ted) were being cheap, a common refrain heard from many critics. So that leaves several other possibilities:
1) The Packers are dead-on convinced Tretter is their center of the present and the future.
2) The Packers are planning to draft a starting center.
2) Ted Thompson just doesn’t value the center position that highly.
Let’s take a look at the first option. I recently wrote about the state of the center position for WTMJonline. Here’s an excerpt from that article: