27

March

Anthony Hargrove: The Green Bay Packers Should Not Want Him

Former Saints DE Anthony Hargrove

Did Hargrove get paid extra for this hit?

In a further sign that the apocalypse may actually occur in 2012, the Green Bay Packers have waded into the free agency waters with Ted Thompson at the controls.

As someone who prefers to mainly build through the draft, Thompson largely bypasses the free agency period but with center Scott Wells leaving for the St. Louis Rams, Thompson was backed into a corner a bit and signed former Indianapolis Colts center Jeff Saturday to a two year contract.

The Packers needed a center and Thompson signed one, one that arguably may even be an upgrade at the position.  It’s been a move fans have largely approved.  Thompson signing a “name” free agent worked out pretty well when he signed Charles Woodson in 2006 and fans hope to see the same in the signing of Saturday.

Thompson is apparently not done in free agency this year, either.  Seahawks defensive end Anthony Hargrove apparently took to Twitter to announce he was likely headed to Green Bay to become a Packer.  The Twitter account claiming to be that of Hargrove’s is unverified, so it is unknown whether or not it is Hargrove actually sending those tweets, but the Packers earlier hosted the real Hargrove at Lambeau Field on his free agency tour.

There’s little doubt the Packers could use someone like him. The Packers had an anemic pass rush in 2011 and it was one of the big reasons an otherwise highly successful 15-1 campaign fizzled out in the divisional round of the NFC playoffs.  Hargrove is a decent pass rusher who recorded five sacks in the 2009 Super Bowl-winning campaign for the Saints before heading to Seattle for one year in 2011.  He was drafted by the Rams in 2004 and recorded 6.5 sacks his sophomore season in 2005.

Here is the catch: Hargrove has a series of off the field troubles, most recently being named as a player that may have received a bounty in the now infamous New Orleans Saints bounty program that rewarded players in cash for knocking opposing players out of the game with extra incentive if they left the game on a cart.   Hargrove was implicated in the NFC Championship game where Brett Favre took the biggest pounding of his career in the Minnesota Vikings’ loss to the Saints.

21

March

Saints had Bounty on Packers QB Aaron Rodgers

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers throws a pass against the New Orleans Saints in last season's opening game.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell came down hard on the New Orleans Saints for paying bounties on opposing players. The punishment:

  • Indefinite suspension of former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams
  • One-year suspension of coach Sean Payton
  • Eight-game suspension of general manager Mickey Loomis
  • Six-game suspension of assistant-head coach Joe Vitt
  • A $500,000 franchise fine
  • Forfeiture of second-round draft picks in 2012 and 2013
  • Future discipline of individual players to be determined

The NFL also confirmed that the Saints had a bounty on Vikings QB Brett Favre in the NFC championship game and on Packers QB Aaron Rodgers in the 2011 season opener.

Here’s more on the Rodgers’ bounty:

“Further, prior to the Saints’ opening game in 2011, Coach Payton received an email from a close associate that stated in part, “PS Greg Williams put me down for $5000 on Rogers (sic).” When shown the email during the course of the investigation, Coach Payton stated that it referred to a “bounty” on Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers.”

Thanks to the Saints being docked a second-round pick, the Packers will move up one spot in the second round of this year’s draft, jumping from 60th overall to pick No. 59.

My only concern with the punishment is letting the Saints keep next year’s first-round pick. What if the absence of Payton and a few key injuries cause the Saints to have a season like the Colts just had and they end up with the No. 1 overall pick in 2013? I would’ve docked the Saint’s third- or fourth-round pick this year and taken away their first-rounder next year.

Also, if any Vikings fans whine too loudly about the beating Favre took in the NFC championship game, remind them that a bounty didn’t prevent Rodgers and the Packers from beating New Orleans last season.

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Adam Czech is a freelance reporter and a Packers fan living in the Twin Cities. Follow Adam on Twitter. Read more of Adam's writing on the Packers here.

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