Category Archives: Free Agency

15

March

Cory Corner: Ted Thompson’s loyalty will pay dividends

Instead of bringing outside free agents, Ted Thompson has opted to reward loyalty and sign players to stay in Green Bay.

Instead of bringing in outside free agents, Ted Thompson has opted to reward loyalty and sign players to stay in Green Bay.

Ted Thompson is proving that devotion and dedication mean more than stats.

The Packers general manager has stuck to his draft and develop philosophy. He has signed four free agents in Sam Shields, Mike Neal, Andrew Quarless and even B.J. Raji to come back and play their home games at Lambeau Field.

I’ve seen and heard numerous people bash Thompson for not bringing in free agents from other teams in order to help the Packers win their fifth Super Bowl title.

Frankly, the fact that Thompson likes to embrace loyalty and reward his guys shouldn’t be overlooked.

Remember, when you bring in outside guys, there is a bit of a transition period as the newbies get acquainted with how things are run. They must get acclimated to the playbook, varying types of schemes for different types of situations and know what and how is expected.

Obviously, former players already know that. They’ve already got strong bonds with teammates, which doesn’t hurt the all-important team chemistry, but most importantly, they already know their roles.

Neal is coming back after a season in which he was tied for third on the team in sacks. It would be ridiculous to even assume that he would demand a Clay Matthews role as the focal point of the defense. But if the Packers had brought in a guy like DeMarcus Ware, Jared Allen or Julius Peppers who’s to say that wouldn’t have happened?

Same thing on the offensive side. Quarless all-of-a-sudden isn’t going to demand Jordy Nelson or Randall Cobb targets because he knows his role in the delicate Packers ecosystem.

There were, heck there still are, decent guys available. Brian Orakpo is still hanging around, but since he was franchised by the Redskins nobody wants to part with two first round draft picks for a guy that is now arguing with Washington about whether he should be franchised as a linebacker or a defensive end. (It should be noted that the franchise designation as a linebacker is $11.455 million as opposed to $13.116 million for a defensive end).

9

March

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

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Surviving Sundays with no Packers football.

With Sam Shields locked up for the next four years, it’s time to focus on the Packers other free agents.

News of the Packers offering B.J. Raji a short-term contract to return as the team’s nose tackle brought out all kinds of reactions. Many Packers fans want nothing to do with Raji after he fell off the face of the earth midway through last season.

Other Packers fans are willing to stick with Raji if all it takes a relatively cheap, low-risk one-year deal.

I’m in the latter category. There is rarely such a thing as a bad one-year contract. If Raji flops again next season, you’re not tied to him long-term. If he’s horrible in training camp, and a good portion of the contract isn’t guaranteed, the Packers can just cut him.

That might make me sound like a Raji defender, but I am anything but. There were several times in the second half of last season where I wanted Ted Thompson to enter the Packers defensive huddle and cut Raji on the spot. He was that bad.

One talking point from Raji defenders that drives me crazy is the notion that it’s his job to “occupy blockers” so the middle linebackers can make plays. Yes, often in a 3-4 defense, it is the job of the defensive lineman to absorb double teams and sacrifice a little bit of personal glory to free up teammates.

But most people don’t understand what “occupying blockers” really means. It doesn’t mean you stand there and belly bump with other fat guys. It doesn’t mean you simply take up space. It doesn’t mean you never get to make a tackle for a loss or pressure the quarterback.

It definitely doesn’t mean you end up on your backside or blown off the ball like Raji is all too often.

The best way to “occupy blockers” is to kick their ass, to win your match-up, whether it’s against a single offensive lineman or a double team. Knock your man back a step and force the running back to alter his course, even if it’s a minor detour. Anchor yourself in the hole. Split that double team.

A 3-4 defensive lineman who does that often enough will get a tackle behind the line or a sack every now and then. He’ll also be doing a fine job of “occupying blockers.”

3

March

The Green Bay Packers Are At A Fork In The Road

NFL, Green Bay Packers, Ted Thompson

What Ted Thompson is currently looking at–metaphorically speaking.

Imagine this scenario: you’re traveling with your family on a vacation.  You mapped out the route you would take and foresaw smooth travels ahead.  What actually happens, however, is road filled with bumps and potholes and you suffer some damage and keep getting detoured from your ultimate destination.

For Ted Thompson, with perhaps his legacy as general manager for the Green Bay Packers in the balance, such a moment is at hand.

Ever since the Packers won Super Bowl XLV, Thompson’s ultimate destination has been a return trip to the title game.  Many, including Thompson himself, thought the Packers were in prime position for multiple Super Bowl runs and some even uttered the word “dynasty” when looking at Green Bay’s long term prognosis.

Instead, Thompson’s team has suffered through multiple injury plagued seasons while the defense continues to suffer blowout after blowout like a cheaply made tire on an RV.  The offense is the engine that keeps the vehicle moving at a decent speed but what good does that do with consistently flat tires on defense?

Heading into the 2014 offseason, Thompson has to put solid rubber underneath the Packer vehicle in order to take some pressure off the offense and keep that engine from overheating. The defense must get better (and fast) if the Packers want any chance of returning to the Super Bowl.

Aaron Rodgers was dead on when he said one window has closed for the Packers and another has opened.  The franchise quarterback is 30 and will turn 31 late in the upcoming season. The clock is ticking.

Thompson has relied heavily on drafting talent and developing it along to replace aging stars.  This method has worked well in spots, the wide receiver position is a case in point.

It has been an utter disaster on defense. The Packers have yet to find a suitable replacement for Nick Collins and also haven’t fully replaced Cullen Jenkins either. After both these players left the team via injury and free agency, the performance of the Green Bay defense has gone into a tailspin.

That is why this off season is crucial for the Packers. The Packers managed to stay afloat without Rodgers for half of 2013 but they’d have been in even better shape had the defense even resembled competence. Thompson has not been the best in terms of drafting defensive talent and that was on display for all to see in 2013.

2

March

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

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Foo

The WWE Network debuted on Monday and my wife immediately began filling out divorce papers.

I try to limit my classic wrestling viewing to the television in our room before bed or my iPad if I have a free minute or two in the living room. With WWE Network, I can now literally watch old (and new) wrestling whenever I want. On my phone, in the car, at church, during family dinners, or waiting to check out at the grocery story. Thousands of hours of wrestling footage is at my fingertips.

There is no way my wife is going to be able to deal with me watching wrestling when we’re supposed to be having a serious conversation about buying a new house or finding a good school for our kid.

While I’m reliving classic moments like this, my wife will be packing up her things and relocating as far away from me as possible.

I wonder if the NFL would ever give something like the WWE Network a try? On the surface, it makes sense that they would. But if you really think about it, you realize how silly the league would be to abandon the golden goose it currently has with its traditional television package.

In 2013, the WWE made about $168 million from its television deal. That’s a great deal for the networks that air WWE programming like Monday Night Raw and SmackDown, and not all that great of a deal for WWE.

Ninety-percent of WWE viewers watch shows like Raw and SmackDown live or less than a day after airing. That’s on par with professional sports like football or basketball. The majority of WWE viewership is also under 34 years old and ethnically diverse, two key components that prominent advertisers are looking for. Networks are also looking for more “DVR-proof” programming, or shows that are watched live instead of recorded and watched days or weeks later.

So why doesn’t the WWE have a more lucrative TV deal? Because it’s professional wrestling, duh! Nobody — especially fancy schmancy television executives and big corporate advertisers — has ever taken professional wrestling seriously. Sure, they might back-handedly acknowledge its solid track record of reliable TV ratings and a dedicated and loyal fanbase, but they’re not going to back it up with dollars.

23

February

Surviving Sunday: Packers News, Notes and Links for the Football Deprived (Bonus Edition)

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

So yesterday I accidentally scheduled my Surviving Sunday post to run on Saturday. It was a brain freeze similar to what happens when Mike McCarthy calls for the fullback dive on 3rd-and-short.

Hopefully you enjoyed your Saturday edition of Surviving Sunday. Now that it actually is Sunday, here is a bonus Sunday edition of Surviving Sunday.

Packers news, notes and links

  • Reports surfaced on Saturday that Packers free agent cornerback Sam Shields is seeking a deal similar to the 4 years, $22.4 million contract signed by the Bears’ Tim Jennings. If that’s truly the case, then the Packers need to get this deal done ASAP. I’m guessing the overall guarantee on Shields’ deal would be bigger than Jennings’, but even if that’s true, that’s a perfectly fair deal for both sides and still leaves the Packers salary cap room to make other moves this offseason.
  • Might new Giants offensive coordinator and former Packers QB coach Ben McAdoo try to sign James Starks and Evan Dietrich-Smith away from the Packers? It’d be nice to keep Starks around, but with Eddie Lacy on the roster and DuJuan Harris and Jonthan Franklin returning from injury, Starks is more of a luxury than a necessity. Then again, Starks ran at turbo speed last season. Given his injury history, a part-time role is probably best for him and he sure excelled filling in for Lacy. I don’t like playing musical chairs at center, but is Dietrich-Smith worthy overpaying if another team dumps a big offer on him? I don’t think so. I’m willing to see what J.C. Tretter can do at the position.
  • According to a study from Rick Gosselin at the Dallas Morning News, the Packers have lost a league-high 153 games by injuries to preferred starters over the last two seasons. So what are Mike McCarthy and the Packers going to do about it? Who knows. In this interview with Jason Wilde, McCarthy vowed to figure out what’s going on and make changes. He said the same things last offseason. The most logical change at this point might be to just hire the training and medical staff from Stanford University.
  • If you’re still holding out hope that the Packers will sign Jarius Byrd to fix their issues at safety, this Tweet might squash that hope.

Non-Packers links and other nonsense

20

February

Is the Next Jarrett Boykin on the Packers Roster?

Myles White

Could Myles White end up contributing to the Packers next season?

With Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb due to hit free agency next offseason, the Packers could be looking to draft a wide receiver in April.

Or maybe they’re confident that they can re-up with Nelson and Cobb and aren’t worried about finding another receiver in the draft.

Or maybe they think they have a capable replacement for Nelson or Cobb already on the roster, and the rest of us just don’t know about him yet.

That last scenario seems by far the least plausible, but you never know. Nobody heard of Jarrett Boykin, but he became a reliable receiver and might step into James Jones’ role in 2014 if Jones signs elsewhere.

Of the Packers four “unknown” wide receivers currently on the roster, which one has the best chance of turning into a player? Here’s what I think:

Myles White
Some were saying White was the fastest receiver in training camp. He was also a hurdling star in high school and was signed by the Packers as an undrafted free agent out of Louisiana Tech. Speed and athleticism isn’t the issue for White. Size is.

White is barely over 180 pounds and probably needs to buff up if he wants to stick around and have a legitimate shot at cracking the lineup. If White gets bigger and improves, he can potentially be a deep outside burner who would be a nice complement to the bigger Jordy Nelson, Jones (if he re-signs), Boykin and Cobb (who likes to work inside).

White was called up off the practice squad for the middle part of the season and didn’t do much in 123 snaps. Of course, he didn’t have Aaron Rodgers throwing him the ball, either. White’s season came to an end early when he tore cartilage in his knee.

Chris Harper
He used to play for the Seahawks so he must be halfway decent, right? Well, maybe.

Harper has the size (228) to be another Boykin-type of receiver — tough to bring down and holds his own blocking. But there must be a reason he was cut by the Seahawks (and later by the 49ers) not long after getting drafted in the fourth round. Bob McGinn ranked Harper 12th in his pre-draft wide receiver rankings and quoted scouts who said Harper catches well in traffic and can play in the red zone.

13

February

World to Spin Backwards, Packers Ted Thompson to Delve into Free Agency

Packers GM Ted Thompson

Packers GM Ted Thompson

A report last night from NFL Insider Ian Rappaport claims sources within the Packers have told him Green Bay will reverse course this off-season and look to put together a more dynamic defense via free agent signings.

NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport said Wednesday on “NFL Total Access” that the Packers plan to take advantage of their nearly $30 million in cap space and acquire outside free agents, according to sources informed of the team’s thinking. Rapoport reported on NFL Network that the Packerscould sign as many as five players, which would be the most for the team since 2006.

 And who will Green Bay target? According to Rapoport, the team is committed to rebuilding its defense in a way that best suits the philosophy of defensive coordinator Dom Capers. That means getting more athletic and versatile along the defensive line. A major goal is to improve their ability to blitz and get after the quarterback. Green Bay finished with 44 sacks last season, tied for eighth in the league.

FULL ARTICLE HERE

My initial reaction is: NOW you want to tailor your defense to Dom Capers’ philosophy? So what have we been doing since the Super Bowl win? Is this saying that the drafting of such players as Mike Neal, Morgan Burnett, Nick Perry, Jerel Worthy, etc, has been a mistake?

Is this purely a reactionary move after watching the dynamic Seattle defense destroy the Broncos? As in, “yeah, that’s what we should do?”

Then there’s the question of how accurate this information is. And what level of free agency are we talking about? Will the Packers actually participate on day one or two?

I suppose if this is true, I should just be happy. But I can’t shake the feeling that things got a bit too comfortable for everyone the last few seasons and opportunities were squandered.

In any case, time for everyone to man the battle stations – we’re sailing through uncharted waters here…

Without this becoming a flaming Ted Thompson hate fest, I’d love to hear everyone’s thoughts:

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Jersey Al Bracco is the founder and editor of AllGreenBayPackers.com, and the co-founder of Packers Talk Radio Network. He can be heard as one of the Co-Hosts on Cheesehead Radio and is the Green Bay Packers Draft Analyst for Drafttek.com.