Category Archives: Charles Woodson

23

April

Packing the Stats: How the Packers Invest

Packing the StatsOne thing that many fans have noticed over the years is that Ted Thompson does not like to draft interior offensive linemen, instead preferring to draft tackles and converting them into the interior once they reach the NFL.  This concept seems to indicate that in the NFL there is a premium placed on some positions while not others; for instance quarterback is naturally considered the premium position of premium positions, traditionally followed by some combination of pass rushers and wide receivers.  However each team is different, for instance while the Packers do not put much stock into interior offensive linemen, the Packers have shown a love for fullback/H-backs which most team’s don’t even keep a roster spot for anymore.  So the question is, what are the positions that Ted Thompson favors or is willing to spend precious draft resources for and does Thompson’s weight of draft investment differ significantly with other teams?

To measure this, I took every draft selection made by Ted Thompson during his tenure with the Green Bay Packers, assigned each player to the position they played for the majority of the time and then assigned them a draft value based on which pick they were selected using the “Jimmy Johnson’s Dallas Cowboys” draft trade chart as a metric.  Some caveats of course is that the Packers did switch from a 4-3 bump and run style defense to a blitzburgh 3-4 defense in 2009, which obviously changes what type of players the Packers select and where players ultimately end up playing (for instance AJ Hawk was supposed to play OLB in the 4-3 and moved to ILB in the 3-4).  Also the trade chart has come under scrutiny as of late (myself included); it’s unlikely to be all that accurate or precise in determining trade value and it’s likely that every team has their own modified chart with different values for each draft pick.  However, since all of this information is kept tightly in war rooms (unless you happen to be ironically the Dallas Cowboys), the original trade chart will be used knowing that the rough values are likely to be similar.

Workbook1

26

March

Patience and Proactivity Pay Off for Packers GM Ted Thompson

Ted Thompson manages the Packers roster by balancing patience and proactivity.

Ted Thompson manages the Packers roster by balancing patience and proactivity.

General manager Ted Thompson runs the Green Bay Packers football operations his way.

The Thompson way is characterized by accumulating draft picks, developing drafted players, re-signing young Packers players on the rise, and largely avoiding bidding wars with players leaving other teams during the opening of free agency.

Depending on the fans prospective, this is usually a love or hate relationship. Fans either love the draft and develop approach or long for big name signings in free agency.

However, Ted Thompson has utilized a combination of patience and proactivity to bring his vision of building a franchise to life.

Thompson isn’t afraid of free agency. Rather, he waits until the initial frenzy is over to avoid overpaying players. Doing this has yielded quality players in the past, including Charles Woodson and Ryan Pickett, who were both signed in 2006.

Both Pickett and Woodson were integral players in the 2010 Super Bowl run, and when looking back at their contracts, they appeared to be relative bargains when compared to their contributions to the team.

When free agency opened in 2014, Thompson appeared to be quiet. While teams like the Denver Broncos and New Orleans Saints were throwing money around like they printed it, Thompson waited.

By waiting until the overpaying binge subsided, he was able to sign defensive end Julius Peppers at a very competitive contract (3 years, $30 million) and bolster the interior defensive line with Letroy Guion (1 year, $1 million).

Will Peppers have the same impact as either Woodson or Pickett? We certainly hope so, but only time will tell.

Rather than panicking and overpaying impeding offensive free agents running back James Starks and tight end Andrew Quarless, Thompson was able to bring them back for a modest investment (2 years, $3.17 million and 2 years, $3 million, respectively).

Not only is Thompson patient, he’s also proactive.

He’s great at extending players before they ever hit free agency. Similarly, he has knack for re-signing his own players in that small window between when their contracts expire and when they’re able to test the market.

12

June

A.J. Hawk, Dave Robinson honored at Lee Remmel banquet

Former Packers LB Dave Robinson

Former Packers LB Dave Robinson

At the 14th Lee Remmel Sports Awards Banquet on June 11–what would have been Vince Lombardi’s 100th birthday–Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk and Lombardi-era star Dave Robinson each received an award for their achievements on and off the field.

Hawk was the recipient of the Professional Achievement Award. Since being selected No. 5 overall by the Packers in 2006, Hawk has proven to be a reliable piece of the defense, playing in 110 of a possible 112 regular season games in seven seasons.

“From the very first step off the plane, we realized that there’s something special here,” Hawk said. “Something is different, and it’s so unique.”

Off the field, Hawk has remained active in the community, serving as the spokesman for the Wisconsin Special Olympics. Hawk has also supported the Donald Driver Foundation, the Jerry Parins Cruise for Cancer, the Greg Jennings Foundation, the Al Harris Outreach Program, and the 2nd & 7 Foundation, which is fellow Ohio State alum Mike Vrabel’s charity.

“I love being able to play football here, and I hope to do it for as long as possible,” Hawk said. “I hope to bring many more Super Bowls back to Green Bay. I got one, but sitting next to a guy like Dave, that’s nothing. He laughs at that.”

Hawk was a starter on the Packers’ Super Bowl XLV championship team, whereas Robinson started for the Packers in Super Bowls I and II, which capped off an historic run of three consecutive World Championships.

While accepting the Distinguished Service Award, Robinson reminisced about the 1966 NFL Championship Game against the Dallas Cowboys. With a berth in Super Bowl I on the line and facing a fourth-and-goal late in the fourth quarter, Cowboys quarterback Don Meredith was in Robinson’s grasp before his desperation pass was intercepted by Tom Brown. The Packers ran the clock out and won 34-27, punching their ticket to the first ever Super Bowl.

“Without that game, the Lombardi Trophy may very well be called the Landry Trophy,” Robinson said. “And that just makes me sick.”

In Robinson’s ten years in Green Bay, the Packers never lost to the Cowboys, with the exception of one exhibition game in Dallas. Robinson, a member of the 1960s All-Decade team, still questions the Cowboys’ “America’s Team” label.

31

May

Who Is Green Bay’s Other Starting Safety?

Packers rookie S Jerron McMillian

McMillian appears to be a frontrunner to claim one of the starting safety spots

One of the position battles that is and will continue to be a heavy focus in Green Bay is at safety.  Entrenched in one starting role is Morgan Burnett, who enters his fourth season and appears poised to take a step forward in becoming one of the team’s best defensive players.  The other safety position is still up for grabs amongst Jerron McMillian, M.D. Jennings and Sean Richardson.  This week, the team also signed undrafted free agent David Fulton from Chowan University (in North Carolina for those wondering).

With safety having been one of the team’s bigger needs heading into last month’s draft, the question seemed to be not “if” but “when” they would address the position.  Among the top prospects were Texas’ Kenny Vaccaro, LSU’s Eric Reid, Florida International’s Jonathan Cyprien and Florida’s Matt Elam.  Surely one of those would be available when Green Bay picked at the 26th spot.  That pick came and went, along with 10 others, and not one safety was selected.

Packers General Manager Ted Thompson has had a knack for standing pat at a position that he feels already has the depth and talent necessary to be effective.  In 2010 and after starting running back Ryan Grant went down early in the season, the team seemingly needed another option.  Marshawn Lynch and DeAngelo Williams were both rumored to be available via trade.  Instead, Thompson stuck with the rotation of Brandon Jackson, John Kuhn and James Starks.  It’s no secret, by now, that Thompson prefers his own players and to develop them versus playing in free agency year in and year out.  It appears that the Packers are, once again, exercising that mindset at safety.

Just prior to the draft, the Packers parted ways with long-time veteran Charles Woodson, who was moved to safety before last season.  That left a hole and only raised more speculation that the team would look to add a safety early in the draft.  Instead, they entered this spring’s organized team activities with Burnett, McMillian, Jennings and Richardson all splitting reps at practice.

21

May

Packers News: Charles Woodson signs with Raiders

Former Packers DB Charles Woodson

Former Packers DB Charles Woodson

After another lengthy stint on the free-agent market, former Packers defensive back Charles Woodson has signed a one-year contract to return to the Oakland Raiders, according to the team’s official Twitter account.

Woodson was the No. 4 overall pick to the Raiders in the 1998 NFL Draft. He played eight years with Oakland but had no serious suitors when he became a free agent in 2005.

Late in the free-agent process, Woodson signed a seven-year contract to play in Green Bay where he would go on to play seven seasons. He was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2009 and was a four-time All-Pro selection during his seven years with the Packers.

Versatility and instincts made Woodson a turnover machine at the peak of his career. His post-game speech, in which he urged the team to have “one mind, one goal, one purpose and one heart” after defeating the Chicago Bears in the 2010 NFC Championship Game, is referenced on the team’s rings for Super Bowl XLV.

After originally suggesting he only wanted to play for a Super Bowl contendor, Woodson changed his tune as he remained unsigned. The Raiders won  But now Woodson, 36, will return to Oakland to help shore up a secondary that allowed the fifth-most points in the NFL last season.

The Packers, meanwhile, will turn to Jerron McMillian and M.D. Jennings to fill Woodson’s shoes safety. Both players saw time with the first-team defense Tuesday at the Packers first public OTA of the 2013 season.

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Follow @MJEversoll

Marques is a Journalism student, serving as the Sports Editor of UW-Green Bay\'s campus newspaper The Fourth Estate and a Packers writer at Jersey Al\'s AllGBP.com. Follow Marques on Twitter @MJEversoll.

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7

May

With questions at safety, could Woodson return?

Charles Woodson

Charles Woodson

For seven years, Charles Woodson was everything Packers fans wanted–a leader and defensive difference-maker.

Oh, and an expensive free agent acquisition.

But scheduled to count $9,437,500 against the salary cap in 2013, the Packers opted to release Woodson and use that money elsewhere. Since then, the Packers have signed Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews to lucrative contract extensions and brought in 11 players via the draft.

But one position that wasn’t addressed by the Packers in April’s draft was safety.

Alongside Morgan Burnett, the Packers’ have questionable depth at the position. Second-year player Jerron McMillian has his sights set on the starting job, and M.D. Jennings has added five pounds in hopes of being an every-down player. Sean Richardson, an undrafted rookie last season, also figures to compete for playing time.

Entering the draft, many expected the Packers to address the safety position early. But with the No. 26 pick, they turned their shoulder to Matt Elam and Jonathan Cyprien, and instead selected UCLA defensive end Datone Jones.

Safety was widely viewed as one of the deepest positions in the entire draft, with starting-caliber players available into the middle rounds. But the picks kept coming, and a safety was not among the Packers’ 11 selections.

So is the door completely shut on Woodson’s potential return to Green Bay?

Immediately upon hitting the free agent market, Woodson’s agent expressed his client’s desire to play for a Super Bowl contender. He had a visit with the San Francisco 49ers in March but nothing came to fruition. General manager Trent Baalke said before the draft that Woodson remains on the team’s radar.

“We had a great visit with Charles when he was here,” Baalke said, via 49ers.com. “We feel he can still play the game. That’s something we’ll continue to look at.”

But other than a visit with the 49ers two months ago, it’s been 2006 all over again for Woodson. But after months of minimal interest on the open market, the Packers pushed the hardest to sign Woodson and, ultimately, signed him to a seven-year contract in late April.

At this point, it’s pretty clear that Woodson won’t get anywhere near the $10 million he was scheduled to make for 2013. And if he’s only interested in playing for a contender, he’ll likely have to drastically reduce his financial demands.

30

April

2013 Draft Leaves Packers In Need

Packers WR Greg Jennings

Who will replace Greg Jennings in 2013 is one of many questions left after the draft

The Green Bay Packers added 11 new players to their offseason roster via this past weekend’s NFL draft.  Packers GM Ted Thompson, as he does every year, maneuvered around and was able to add some additional picks to the stash that he began the draft with.

Heading into the draft, the team’s biggest needs were Defensive Line, Safety, Running Back, Wide Receiver, Tight End and Offensive Line.  The team addressed the defensive line with two selections in the first five rounds.  At running back, they added two players in the first four rounds and they selected two offensive linemen in the fourth.  Any pick within the first five rounds should be expected to stick on the team’s final 53 man roster.  The key word is “should” so I cautiously say that those three areas seemingly were covered.

While some GM’s draft more for need, Thompson’s philosophy has been more about taking the best player available on his board at the time.  Two good examples are his selecting two offensive tackles within 10 draft slots of each other in round four and trading back into the fourth round to select running back Johnathan Franklin when he had already selected a top-tier running back two rounds earlier in the form of Eddie Lacy.

With that said and as has been the case in year’s past, Thompson did not address every position of need that the Packers had going into the draft.  With so many teams jockeying and moving around constantly, it would be tough for any GM’s board to fall exactly how he wants and leave draft weekend with every hole plugged up.  Three positions left with the biggest question marks are Safety, Wide Receiver and Tight End.

Safety

Mock drafts and big boards had the Packers possibly addressing this position in round one.  It was unlikely that top-rated safety prospect Kenny Vaccaro would still be available when the Packers were set to choose at #26, so the biggest possibilities were Jonathan Cyprien, Matt Elam and Eric Reid.  Reid was taken at 18th overall and was already off the board.  Thompson clearly didn’t feel that Cyprien nor Elam were what he wanted in a first round pick and he drafted defensive lineman Datone Jones instead.