Green Bay Packers Taking Shotgun Approach to Improving the Defensive Line

Phillip Merling

Veteran free agent DE Phillip Merling became the twelfth defensive lineman on the Packers' offseason roster.

Call it the “shotgun approach.” Ted Thompson added his twelfth defensive lineman to the roster on Wednesday with his signing of DE Phillip Merling, who spent the last four years with the Miami Dolphins. Of the four (non-Packer) veteran free agent signings by Thompson this offseason, three have been defensive lineman: Daniel Muir, Tony Hargrove, and now Merling.

There’s obviously been some emphasis by the Packers on bolstering the talent and depth across the unit. The drafting of Jerel Worthy and Mike Daniels take the total number of new linemen up to five, meaning almost half of the group will be new faces in training camp.

Is this a case of desperation in response to the horrible performances of last season? No, that’s taking it a bit far. Ted Thompson is not spending beaucoup money on these free agent players, which one would tend to do when desperate.

But he is stockpiling the talent pool in a variety of ways, and hoping a good number of them stick.

The three free agent signings are not superstars. Tony Hargrove is the most well known of the group, but he’s probably not going to be a game-changer. His career has been up and down, playing with four different teams over eight years and racking up just 19.5 sacks and 16 run stuffs in the process. Hargrove hasn’t started a game in two seasons, and he only has 25 starts to his name across his entire career. Those numbers aren’t meant to discourage anyone – they’re certainly not the whole story – but they’re not indicators of a guy who’s going to “tilt the field.”

Then there’s Daniel Muir, whose career contrasts with Hargrove’s. Both are 28 years old, but Muir has 3 years less experience in the league and a slightly less impressive resume. Unlike the travelling Hargrove, he spent most of his years with the Indianapolis Colts after his rookie stint with the Packers. Muir’s numbers aren’t as flashy (just a half a sack in his career), but he is also an inside tackle player rather than a defensive end, so his role is considerably different.



Packers Awarded Four Compensatory Picks for 2012 NFL Draft

2012 NFL Draft talkThe NFL has finally announced the awarding of compensatory picks for the 2012 draft. A total of 32 compensatory selections were given to 15 teams, with the Green Bay Packers receiving the maximum four picks. Also earning the maximum amount were the New York Jets and Cleveland Browns.

Two of Green Bay’s four selections come in the fourth round (no. 132 and 133), while the other two come in the seventh (no. 241 and 243). Combined with the seventh-round pick earned from the Jets through trading OL Caleb Schlauderaff, this takes them up to 12 total picks for the 2012 draft.

Information about compensatory selections and this year’s full list are provided by NFL.com:

Under the rules for compensatory draft selections, a team losing more or better compensatory free agents than it acquires in the previous year is eligible to receive compensatory draft picks.

The number of picks a team receives equals the net loss of compensatory free agents up to a maximum of four. The 32 compensatory choices announced today will supplement the 221 choices in the seven rounds of the 2012 NFL Draft (April 26-28), which will kick off in primetime for the third consecutive year.

. . .

Compensatory free agents are determined by a formula based on salary, playing time and postseason honors. The formula was developed by the NFL Management Council. Not every free agent lost or signed by a club is covered by this formula.

The players lost in free agency last year were Cullen Jenkins (Eagles), guard Daryn Colledge (Cardinals), running back Brandon Jackson (Browns), guard Jason Spitz (Jacksonville) and fullback Korey Hall (Saints). Ted Thompson did not sign any free agents last season to offset their losses, thus helping them gain the maximum number of picks for this year.

Packers fans should understand by now that this is common practice for Thompson. His philosophy of building through the draft and dipping into free agency only when necessary allows him to stockpile a large number of picks from year to year. It lets him not only “shotgun” the draft for talent, but also use picks to trade around the board as needed.

It should be noted, however, that compensatory picks may not be traded. They will give Thompson more room to trade his other picks, though.