5

September

Why No Trades For Ted Thompson?

Remember this guy?

DJ Williams, Brandon Bostick, James Starks, Alex Green.  All these names were brought up by the media and fans as possible trade bait that the Packers could dangle for future draft picks.  Ultimately, none of that came to fruition as Bostick and Starks made the team while DJ Williams and Alex Green were cut and subsequently found homes in Jacksonville and New York.  Some of you might be thinking, if the DJ Williams found a home in Jacksonville so quickly, why didn’t Thompson get a draft pick out of them?  It does seem like every year fans and media alike gush about the depth that the Packers’ offseason roster contains and start day dreaming about how great a draft Ted Thompson could have if he had more draft picks.  Overall Ted Thompson rarely trades players at all (save for the whole Brett Favre thing and the “tag and trade” of Corey Williams, and truth be told the odds are against Thompson in making trades right before the 53 man roster cut.

 

  1. The Packers are a stable organization: The Packers don’t have much turnover in their coaching staff or front office; sure coaches have left to for other teams and famously now 3 Ted Thompson disciples are GMs of their own teams, but the gradual loss of talent that the Packers have experienced is nothing like the building clearing clean sweep that some owners start after a couple dismal seasons.  The offshoot of this is that the players on the Packers roster were picked and paid by the current GM.  Everyone of the players on the team now are Thompson’s “guys” and he has a incentive to go protect them as much as he can.  This isn’t a situation where the previous regime drafted a dominant 3-4 outside linebacker but the new coaching staff plays a 4-3 defense.  From a transaction perspective, there aren’t attractive trading candidates that don’t fit the Packers scheme or philosophy.  One famous example of this was when Denver hired Josh McDaniels was hired and proceeded to tear apart the team that Mike Shanahan had assembled including Jay Culter and Brandon Marshall, two players that typically would never see the trading block.
5

March

Five Options for Greg Jennings and Jermichael Finley

With the NFL rumor mill ablaze during the combine, multiple sources have reported/claimed/inferred/guessed/made up/straight up fabricated news that Greg Jennings was a candidate for the franchise tag (Jennings did not receive the tag after all that) and that the Packers were getting sick of Jermichael Finley’s off the field antics and on the field inconsistency are were looking to part ways with the tight end, whether that be from trade or ultimately by cutting him.
Both situations seemed a little odd to me from a logical perspective, so what I’ve done if come up with 5 options that the Packers could choose this offseason deal with Greg Jennings and Jermichael Finley.  While Jennings and Finley are almost polar opposites in terms of their play style, I think they are intertwined when it comes to the economics of the NFL as well as the well-being of the Packers according to general manager Ted Thompson
  • Option 1: Packers do nothing; Greg Jennings enters free agency and Jermichael Finley plays out his contract: This is probably the most realistic situation given Jennings’ recent comments and the historical inactivity of general manager Ted Thompson when it comes to free agent signings.  Jennings believes he’s worth $12-14 million and I’m certain the Packers disagree with that; while Jennings isn’t likely to get a contract average even close to that, he will probably get some higher offers than what the Packers are willing to offer.  On the other hand, it appears as if the Packers are still mixed on their feelings about Jermichael Finley; his up and down performance coupled with his off the field antics (such as throwing his quarterback under the bus), have apparently left some in the Packers’ front office sour.  Unfortunately, Finley also possess the capability to single-handedly break a defense and the Packers will likely give the mercurial tight end one more year to prove he’s worth the money.  Probability: Very likely

  • Option 2: Packers resign Greg Jennings and Jermichael Finley plays out his contract: In essence this boils down to what sort of market Greg Jennings finds himself in once free agency starts; if it’s a very soft market, Jennings may find that playing with a star quarterback and a stable organization worth more than the slight increase in salary that another team offers.  The Packers lowball Jennings at around $5-6 million per year and he begrudgingly accepts. While it’s unlikely with a player of Jennings’ caliber, James Jones ran into the same problem when he entered free agency only to find no real interest in his services.  In this situation, Jennings’ resigning doesn’t put significant pressure on the salary cap nor the Packers’ capacity to re-sign/sign other players and the Packers let Finley play out his contract to see if he’s worth resigning next year. Probability: Likely
8

August

How Much To Get Matt Flynn Back on the Packers?

Seattle Seahawk QB Matt Flynn

Seattle Seahawk QB Matt Flynn

While not exactly Packers news, I don’t think there are many readers of AllGreenBayPackers.com who aren’t at least a little bit interested in one Matt Flynn, who parlayed a couple solid games (including a spectacular week 17 game against Detroit) into a stepping stone to a NFL starting quarterback.  Most fans were sad to see Flynn go, who might have been the best backup quarterback in the league, but with the demand for quarterbacks as high as it is in the NFL, many fans were happy with the compensatory pick that Flynn would likely net the Packers.

Fast forward a couple months, and the story is quite different; Flynn was signed to a lucrative contract, but nothing remotely close the deal many were expecting; I was the first to assume that Flynn would get something in the ball park of Kevin Kolb, another backup with lots of potential but not a lot of tape, who had received a 6-year $65 million contract, but Flynn got a 3 year, $19.5 million deal instead.

Also inexplicably, the Seahawks front office has decided the best way for Flynn to get used to his new team is to throw him into a quarterback competition with Tavaris Jackson (who realistically is first trying to make the team) and 3rd round rookie Russell Wilson (also signing Terrell Owens and Braylon Edwards makes little sense to me either).  To me this means that Seattle isn’t all too confident in Flynn’s abilities, which is understandable considering Flynn played with some of the best offensive talent in the NFL and didn’t play all that much to boot (then again Seattle did pretty well with another Packers backup in a similar situation named Matt Hassellbeck).

With all this in mind, one interesting question is: Could the Packers get Flynn back?  While he might not be a starter, I would say that he’s definitely capable of playing at a high enough level to cover for any Aaron Rodgers injuries and probably win a fair share of his games as well.

Here are the specifics of Flynn’s deal:

v Base: 3-year, $19.5 million total

  • $10 million guaranteed (divided into three parts)
    • $6 million signing bonus
    • 2012 salary ($2 million total)
    • $2 million of his 2013 salary ($5.25 million total)
  • Additional $5 million of escalators
26

April

NFL Draft Economics: Draft Trading and the Rookie Wage Scale

How much would trading up for a player like Clay Matthews cost the Packers in 2012?

Ted Thompson and the Green Bay Packers have a lot of options in the 2012 NFL Draft with 12 overall selections, and they are probably going to need them with some of the defensive holes they need to fill.

Our own “Jersey” Al Bracco spent time presenting some First and Second Round trade-up scenarios that could possibly occur, and Thomas Hobbes looked into Thompson’s trading history in relationship to the Trade Value Chart (TVC).

A lot of people are wondering, though, does the old TVC still apply?

This will be the first draft under the latest Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between the NFL and NFLPA, and it comes with a shiny new set of rules for a rookie wage scale. Though we haven’t had a draft under these restrictions on pay, the 2011 rookie class did feel the effects of it when they were finally signed.

Below is a comparison of the contracted salaries of the top 10 picks in the 2010 and 2011 NFL Drafts. The numbers shown are in millions of dollars, and for simplicity in numbers, only the guaranteed amount has been recorded. It’s not a perfect barometer of the wage scale’s effects, but it should give you a general idea of what has happened:

SEL #

2010 Contract

2011 Contract

% Decrease

1

$50.00

$22.00

56.00%

2

$40.00

$21.00

47.50%

3

$35.00

$20.40

41.71%

4

$36.75

$19.60

46.67%

5

$34.00

$18.50

45.59%

6

$29.00

$16.20

44.14%

7

$26.00

$14.40

44.62%

8

$23.00

$12.00

47.83%

9

$20.80

$12.50

39.90%

10

$17.50

$12.00

31.43%

 

As for how this effects the draft, there are three basic things that could happen: (1) it will cost more to trade up, (2) it will cost less to trade up, or (3) there will be no significant change in trading values.

At first glance, it would seem the cost for acquiring a higher draft pick should go down. The players are being paid less money, which on the surface might seem like they’re worth less. (No, not “worthless.”) This, of course, is not the case at all.

Let’s go back to our high school economics class and the Laws of Supply and Demand.

7

March

Robert Griffin III and Peyton Manning Killed Packers’ Chances at Trading Matt Flynn

Matt Flynn will hit the open market March 13th.

The deadline for franchising players has come and gone without the Packers tagging Matt Flynn. While Ted Thompson may have worked hard to complete a trade that would provide a team with exclusive negotiating rights to Flynn, it appears that Robert Griffin III and Peyton Manning ultimately killed the market for Flynn.

The four most likely suitors for Flynn’s services are the Miami Dolphins, Cleveland Browns, Washington Redskins and Seattle Seahawks. All four have also been mentioned as potential landing spots for both Griffin and Manning.

With Manning probably set to be cut later this week and the Rams officially auctioning off the second pick in the NFL Draft, it is likely that these teams were reluctant to commit trading for Flynn with decent shots at what they may consider better options. By agreeing to a trade with the Packers, the team that did so would be eliminating themselves from RGIII and Manning sweepstakes too prematurely.

It will be interesting to see which team decides to “settle” for Flynn and at what cost. Those four teams are the most quarterback-needy behind the Indianapolis Colts who will be drafting Andrew Luck with the first pick of the draft. The four teams are likely competing for the three quarterbacks, Flynn, Manning, Griffin. The market for these quarterbacks will get wild as soon as the first team makes their move, whether it be signing Manning or Flynn, or impressing the Rams enough to work out a deal pre-draft.

Many fans are upset and frustrated by the fact that the Packers didn’t tag Flynn and now the highest compensation the team could is a third rounder in 2013. These fans have been quick to blame Ted Thompson for missing an opportunity to snag more draft picks this season.

After the deadline passed, rumors circulated that the Packers were unable to work a deal with the Browns or Dolphins, forcing their decision to let Flynn hit the open market. If this is the case, it appears Thompson was working hard to get a deal done, but that the Packers didn’t feel the value they would receive was enough to take the risk of having to pay Flynn significantly more money than Aaron Rodgers.

6

March

Playing Devil’s Advocate: Quality vs. Quantity in the NFL Draft

Clay Matthews NFL Combine

Clay Matthews at the NFL Combine

Let’s play devil’s advocate for a second and argue that Ted Thompson should trade up in the draft.  Now I’m not going to be crazy and say that Thompson should trade away every pick the team has in order to pull off a “Ricky Williams”, but moving some of the picks to get better position in the draft does have its benefits

My reasoning is that having too many draft picks can actually be detrimental to the team.  When Thompson took over operations from head coach/general manager Mike Sherman, the team was in a salary cap nightmare and as a result Thompson needed every draft pick badly in order to restock the roster with low-cost, high-reward players.  Also, since the team was stocked with players from the old regime, Thompson had no qualms getting rid of player in lieu of his own guys (all new GMs do this subconsciously if not very consciously) and the easiest way to do that was through the draft.

As a result from 2005, the first year Ted Thompson started drafting for the Packers, to 2010 only 6 out of 57 drafted players  (about 10%) have failed to make the 53 man roster; 2005 6th round pick Craig Bragg, 2006 4th round pick Cory Rodgers, 2006 7th round pick Dave Tollefson, 2007 5th round pick David Clowney, 2007 7th round pick Clark Harris and finally 2009 5th round pick Jamon Meredith.  So far this system has worked pretty well for Thompson; he’s drafted the vast majority of the current team and the Packers have won the Super Bowl and posted a 15-1 season under Thompson’s regime.

However last year in the NFL draft, Thompson was forced to get rid nearly 30% of the players he drafted, triple the average; 6th round Ricky Elmore had a terrible time converting from a 4-3 DE to a 3-4 OLB and didn’t show much in special teams and was probably one of the first players to be cut.  Fellow 6th round pick Caleb Schlauderaff was also slated to be cut as well if Thompson hadn’t been able to trade him off to the New York Jets first for a undisclosed draft pick (most likely a 7th rounder).  Finally 7th rounder Lawrence Guy was also likely to be cut, but instead ended up on the IR list all season.  This is in essence squandered resources as these picks could have been used as bargaining chips to put the Packers in a better position to select better players, or in other words trade up.

27

February

Thomas Hobbes’ Green Bay Packers Offseason Blueprint

Green Bay Packers GM Ted Thompson
  1. Release LT Chad Clifton: The writing is on the wall.  Even Chad Clifton knew that it was unlikely that he would ever finish his 3 year and had most of the money guaranteed up front (which was helped by the cap-less season before the lockout).  Clifton has had issues staying healthy in the twilight of his career and this year was no different with Clifton being out for the majority of the season.  Added to that a $5.5 million salary in 2012, ascending player in Bryan Bulaga, 1st round draft choice Derek Sherrod and up and at least a serviceable backup in Marshall Newhouse and the Packers have set themselves well for life after Clifton.
  2. Renegotiate Charles Woodson and Donald Driver contracts:
    1. Charles Woodson: Woodson has undeniably lost a step and his high-risk high-reward style of play backfired a couple times last season.  Woodson currently leads the Packers roster with a salary of $11.5 million, some of which was a bonus for a NFL defensive player of the year award in 2009.  But what Woodson is still capable of is shutting down the new breed of tight end, like Jermichael Finley.  For instance, Woodson is still quick enough and physical enough to handle a Jimmy Graham, and I’m not sure who else on the defense could.  Unfortunately Woodson will turn 36 next season and at some point he’s going to have to realize that aging veterans start getting marginalized.  Hopefully Woodson doesn’t let his fiery attitude get in the way of business.
    2. Donald Driver: At 37, Driver has exceeded even the greatest expectations by still being in the NFL at all.  However, his production dropped drastically with the emergence of Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson and has Randall Cobb and James Jones breathing down his neck for more playing time.  What Driver has to his benefit is experience, he’s well versed in the offense and isn’t likely to miss an assignment or a read.  What hurts him is that he’s not player he used to be and he wouldn’t survive playing on special teams.  In my opinion Driver should be retained since consistency at wide receiver (even as the 5th wide receiver) outweighs any benefits a player has on special teams.  Furthermore, I’m not convinced that any free agent/undrafted rookie would be better than Driver.  Are Cobb and Jones better than Driver?  Probably.  Are Tori Gurely or Diondre Biorel better?  I doubt it.