Green Bay Packers: Success through value


The Green Bay Packers are one of the best run franchises in the NFL with a front office that gets the best value out of their players and organization.

Raymond T. Rivard photograph

Pro Football Focus (PFF), one of the most comprehensive and enlightened football Internet sites out in cyberspace, released an interesting post today that focuses on the Green Bay Packers and their Performance Based Value.

We all know Ted Thompson in a tightwad. He rarely takes the free agent carrot, though it’s the sexy thing to do; he seems to always be ahead of the ball in signing extensions to the right players at the right time (see Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson, to name just two); and he always holds his cards closely to his vest.

Charles Woodson was the highest paid Packer before being cut.

Those are good things, whether you like to think so or not. Just ask the guys over at PFF and take a look at their post. The writing is on their (website) wall. They go about backing up their claim that the Packers consistently go the right route in their handling of veterans. For instance, the recent release of Charles Woodson wasn’t done because the Packers’ brass thought he couldn’t play anymore – they did it because they weighed his overall value to the team and realized that it was time to move on. That thinking is backed up in PFF’s report.

The majority of the overvalued players on this list are either on their way out of Green Bay (Jermichael Finley, A.J. Hawk, Ryan Pickett, and maybe even Tramon Williams) or have already left (Woodson, Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, Jeff Saturday). If there are players on this list who are to be kept, they most likely will play out their current contract and be moved on or will agree to have their contracts reworked – which rarely occurs. A couple of those include Bryan Bulaga and John Kuhn.

I don’t know of anyone who likes to make less money, do you?

Overall, the report places the Packers at +$7.6 million, according to PFF’s formula (which you can read about on their page).

Mike Renner, the author of this piece, had this overall statement to say about the Packers …

"Not surprisingly after going 11-5 the Packers received good value from their contracts. The Packers made a living off of backups playing like starters in 2010, and it was no different again this year with two of our top five subs of the year. The good news is four of their overvalued contracts are already off the books for 2013, and with Ted Thompson’s disdain for overpaying players we could see even more moves this offseason.”"

Don Barclay was one of the best values among the Packers players last season.

Raymond T. Rivard photograph

Those moves to which Renner points will most likely involve Jermichael Finley and A.J. Hawk. Finley is on the final year of a contract that will overpay him  more than $8 million this year alone. Hawk, who was a first round pick, has managed to stick with the Packers because of injuries and a penchant for playing well, but not well enough to be a full-time starter. The Packers can do better and Ted Thompson knows that.

In relation to the idea that the Packers continue to be one of the best-run franchises in the NFL, we also sought out a listing of every player on the Packers’ roster and came across this comprehensive list at This is a pretty incredible compilation. It provides all of the detailed contract provisions for each of the players – from the measly pickings of Don Barclay up to the monster contracts of Charles Woodson and Aaron Rodgers (though is should be noted here that Rodgers was one of several “undervalued” players on PFF’s list – I think you can understand why).

For instance, Barclay, who became a starter for the last six weeks of last season, signed a three-year, worth $1.44 million on April 30, 2012, that will pay him  $480,000 in 2013, $570,000 in 2014, before reaching restricted free agent status in 2015.

Compare that to Woodson’s team-topping contract that the Packers unloaded a couple of weeks ago – $11.4 million with a salary cap hit that was to be around $10 million. You could also compare it to Tramon Williams’ third-highest contract on the team.

In November 2010, Williams signed a five-year, $38.148 million contract. The deal contains $11.074 million guaranteed, including a $6 million signing bonus.

Here is what Williams is due the next two seasons before becoming a free agent in 2015:

• 2013: $5.9 million (+ $300,000 roster bonus),

• 2014: $6.9 million (+ $300,000 roster bonus), 2015: Free Agent

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (28) tries to get away from Green Bay Packers cornerback Tramon Williams.

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

You could also compare it to the contract Casey Hayward signed as a rookie last year: He signed a four-year, $3.3 million contract. The deal contains $1.4 million guaranteed, including an $847,000 signing bonus. 2013: $540,451, 2014: $690,901, 2015: $841,352, 2016: Free Agent.

Now, you can look at these contracts and think, “man, they come into the league as instant millionaires.” You are right, but they are paid what the market bears and can demand. The NFL is big business, it’s a tough business and these guys have to be at their best every single day to have any staying power. They’re not flipping burgers at McDonald’s

So, I suggest that you take a look at these two sites. They offer a wealth of information and, especially at this time of year when free agency is kicking off and player movement becomes a huge story, these numbers will help you put into perspective the types of contracts that teams and players are negotiating.

In addition, you might keep going back to the PFF page that illustrates in black and white why the Packers have been so successful on the field and in the front office.

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