The Green Bay Packers have been the surprise of the NFL Free Agency feeding frenzy season. Though GM Ted Thompson has been frugal in his signings, he has made more deals this year during the signing period than he has in nearly a decade.
That’s a good thing – not only for the sanity of the fans, but for the team. There were just too many holes within the roster to be able to fix via the draft; too many free agents who could walk away and leave the team with gaping holes at nearly every position.
So, when Thompson started early by re-signing cornerback Sam Shields before he could hit the market, we knew something was up – that Thompson wasn’t going to stand by with his hands in his pockets this offseason. It was time for changes – and we know that change can be good.
Thompson has targeted the guys he wanted back first – Shields, Andrew Quarless, B.J. Raji, Mike Neal, Jamari Lattimore and James Starks. In addition to those moves, Thompson went out and picked up two veteran defensive linemen – Letroy Guion and Julius Peppers.
And he has done it all without breaking the bank.
With more than half of the salary cap money still remaining in the bank, Thompson is no doubt taking a closer look at other players of his own he should re-sign and I wouldn’t be surprised if he has another outside surprise signing up his sleeve.
Though Thompson has to also consider the need to re-sign both Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson before they both land in free agency next spring, he should also be working on deals that could bring Johnny Jolly, Ryan Pickett, John Kuhn, Robert Francois, Matt Flynn or even C.J. Wilson back into the fold.
If he can re-land up to half of the players from that list, he will be doing well. The real question in Thompson’s mind at this point is how best to proceed. He needs to determine which of those players – and any who might be tempting from the outside – would be good additions to the team.
Depending on how Thompson moves in the near future will also determine how the Packers proceed in the draft.
It’s kind of amazing that no matter how things change, they do stay the same … we can point to the fact that through all his dealings this offseason, Thompson still faces the need to add a safety and inside linebacker. Most likely he will do so through the draft where the pickings at those two positions should be pretty deep.
Yes, Thompson has had a good run so far, but he is far from finished. We need to get through free agency and the Draft to get to the period of time that I really enjoy – the signing of undrafted free agents. It seems there are always a couple of surprise players picked up by Thompson that somehow make the team.
But in the meantime, let’s continue to watch … will a guy like Devin Hester lower his asking price and land with the Packers? Will Thompson skip that route all together and continue to re-sign his own?
As always, stay tuned …