12

August

Diondre Borel and the Battle to be the Packers 6th Wide Receiver

Diondre Borel

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Diondre Borel runs the ball against the San Diego Chargers during the first half of an NFL preseason football game Thursday. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

Diondre Borel had an opportunity to separate himself from the competition in the race for the sixth wide receiver spot on the Packers’ roster Thursday night.

Did he do it? Well, not really. But he also didn’t take a major step backwards. Like the whole battle-for-the-sixth-receiver-spot storyline has been thus far, Borel was just kind of meh against the Chargers. Not terrible, but far from great.

Things didn’t start well for Borel. He got drilled by San Diego’s Demorrio Williams on a first quarter kickoff and fumbled. Coughing the ball up is the surest way to find yourself in Mike McCarthy’s doghouse and off the team, so Borel put himself in a deep hole right off the bat.

Borel returned three more kicks/punts on Thursday, including a 34-yard return late in the first half where he flashed some of the speed and burst that make him an intriguing prospect.

Borel finished with three catches for 13 yards and was targeted five times by Graham Harrell. Those numbers are nothing to brag about, but he didn’t have any drops and he definitely didn’t look overmatched.

Like he showed on the 34-yard return, Borel looked quick after he caught the ball — as quick as someone can look when they’re immediately being swarmed by defenders, anyway.

I’d like to see what Borel could do one-on-one against a would-be tackler. If McCarthy really wants to see what Borel is made of, perhaps he’ll call a quick screen in the next exhibition game to see if Borel can get by the first defender and make something happen in the open field.

Maybe Borel would have gotten that chance later in the game, but he exited early with a groin injury, joining a long list of injured Packers on the sidelines.

To make the WR situation even more muddled, Dale Moss looked good and had a nice catch on the sideline.

The race for the sixth WR position is no more clear now than it was before training camp. Nobody has staked an early claim to the slot based on performance, and Borel didn’t exactly seize his opportunity on Thursday.

4

June

Show Me The Money!: Comparing Donald Driver and James Jones’ Contract

Donald Driver

Packers WR Donald Driver took a pay cut to stay in Green Bay.

Someone once said “show me the money!”; as we all know, what players and front office men say in public is often not what’s really happening behind closed doors (for instance, we’ll probably never know what the real reason behind the “Favre divorce”).  This is especially true for the Packers, where General Manager Ted Thompson has made it an artform to talk a lot without actually saying anything.  However, one thing that will always be true is the value of a contract (minus all the technical jargon, i.e. Washington Redskins and Donovan McNabb).  Money never lies and it gives us fans a true indication of what the Packers think of Donald Driver and what Donald Driver thinks of the Packers.  Below is the contract that Donald Driver recently signed and how it compares to another Packers wide receiver, James Jones.

  • Contract:
    • James Jones: 3 year contract worth $9.4 million
      • Yearly average: $3.1 million
  • Donald Driver: 1 year contract worth $2.5 million
    • Yearly average: $2.5 million
    • Signing Bonus
      • James Jones: $1.5 million
        • Yearly average: $500,000
  • Donald Driver: $500,000
    • Yearly average: $500,000
    • 2012 Base Salary
      • James Jones: $2.3 million
      • Donald Driver: $2 million

I would argue that on a yearly basis, Jones’ and Driver’s contracts are essentially identical.  Obviously Jones has a little more security with 3-year deal (and more guaranteed money), but considering Driver is nearly a decade older than Jones, it’s a pretty good sign for Driver and a pretty bad sign for Jones.

What this means for James Jones: This is pretty bad news for the Jones camp because essentially what it says is that Jones (at age 28) is essentially worth the same as Driver (age 37), who is nearly a decade older. Based purely on the contract that Jones and Driver have signed, I think it’s unlikely that Jones finds any suitors for the Packers to trade with.  For one thing, while Jones rebounded somewhat last season in terms of drops (which was the biggest issue in 2010), he didn’t really distinguish himself in any meaningful regard in 2011, so what rationale outside of injuries would a team not sign Jones when he was a free agent last year (and therefore not cost any picks) but now want to trade for him?  My current opinion is that the NFL believes Jones’ production is more a product of Aaron Rodgers, Greg Jennings/Jordy Nelson/Jermichael Finley and the Packers pass first offense rather than his own talent.  I will say that I’m on the fence on how good Jones truly is, but it would seem that the NFL has already decided that it’s mostly the Packers offense and Aaron Rodgers.