With the announcement yesterday that Anthony Hargrove, the Packers’ newly-acquired defensive lineman, would be suspended for half of the season because of his involvement in “bountygate” as a member of the New Orleans Saints, the question about whether Green Bay will keep him around begs to be answered.
The knee-jerk reaction, one that many feel will be completed by Packers’ general manager Ted Thompson, is to cut ties immediately.
But I don’t think that’s the answer.
First of all, the Packers picked up the experienced player for a song. Second of all, the guy will still be able to work out and provide some competitive depth at the position as the team continues to develop their younger players. Just because he’s been suspended for half the season doesn’t mean the Packers can’t still benefit.
If they keep him, the Packers could utilize him for the stretch run starting in November. Inevitably, there will also be injuries along the line by that time in the season and he will certainly be some fresh legs who could provide quality minutes.
In my mind, the more important question is whether the Packers will keep Mike Neal. Yes, he’s also been suspended for four games and has spent the past two seasons injured. Though he came back from a knee injury last season, he was like a ghost player. He literally had no statistics and simply filled a roster spot.
Though Hargrove’s checkered past may scare some, at least he’s a player who made an impact on the field. My hope is that he’s learned his lesson, has moved on and could give the Packers a couple of quality seasons at a position that is crucial for a team’s overall success.
So, the bottom line for me is the team’s success. Though he’s gone for half the year, Hargrove still has significant value for the Packers. Let Ted Thompson and head coach Mike McCarthy worry about the character issue. Had they been worried about it before, they wouldn’t have signed him. Surely, they were aware of the baggage and possible suspension before they signed on the dotted line.
It’s time to move on, concentrate on building team chemistry, develop the young players and bring Hargrove back into the fold when the suspension is lifted.