Packers free agency: What the Hell is going on out here?!?


Green Bay Packers center Evan Dietrich-Smith is visiting Tampa Bay, but could the Packers make a late push to re-sign him? Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports photograph

We all should have known better – that all this talk linking Green Bay Packers General Manager Ted Thompson to a blockbuster free agent signing was all smoke and mirrors.

Yes, he went out and re-signed one of his own – cornerback Sam Shields  – for four years, $39 million, with $12.5 million guaranteed. That all came down early on in this frenzy known as free agency.

That was followed by reports that the Packers were looking to improve the defensive line by jumping into the talks with then-free agents Lamarr Houston and Arthur Jones. That dissipated quickly Tuesday when Houston signed with the Bears and Jones went to the Colts.

Then when the official signing period began at 3 p.m. Central Daylight Time yesterday, there was nary a peep out of Green Bay … but were we surprised?


That’s because even though our interest was piqued earl on, we should have known better that Thompson was only going to consider players of talent AND value. And while there was plenty of talent on the table in the first day of free agency – there was way too much money being thrown their way.

Here are just some of the highlights from Tuesday:

•  Jairus Byrd – six-year deal worth $56 million with $28 million guaranteed

Michael Johnson – signs with Tampa Bay for a deal that will pay him $8 million per year

• Lamarr Houston – signs with Bears for five years, $35 million, $15 million guaranteed

Branden Albert – five years, $47 million to sign with the Dolphins

Aqib Talib –  six-year, $57 million agreement, $26 million guaranteed

So, it’s pretty clear why TT has steered away from the early going and big bucks. We know that big dollars don’t alway buy success for the individual player or the team where those players end up.

Of most importance to Packers fans at this point in the game is where their own are situated. While there was intense initial interest in the services of Packers tight end Andrew Quarless, he is still unsigned. So is James Jones, Jermichael Finley, John Kuhn, Evan Dietrich-Smith, and James Starks, among others.

While Finley has a trip to Seattle planned and EDS is headed to Tampa Bay for talks, there has been little movement or news about any of the other Packers free agents … at least as of early Wednesday morning.

Jordy Nelson – the Packers are surely saving up to re-sign their veteran wide receiver.

Raymond T. Rivard photograph

We’re pretty sure that Thompson is sitting back and keeping track of the visits and the numbers that are being associated with his free agents. If the timing is right and the numbers fit the Packers budget, expect Thompson to target the guys he wants. Don’t expect much before then.

Jones will probably be snatched up at some point within the next couple of days, but the longer these guys stay on the market, the less they will be valued and paid. Most likely Quarless, Finley, and EDS will be offered contracts outside of Green Bay, but that’s OK because there will be a plan of action to either pick up their own bargain free agents or to restock the team through the Draft.

While all the other teams are making headlines that contain numbers with lots of zeros, the Packers are once again looking for value and the best fits.

There are Packers fans screaming once again that the Packers are being left behind; that they are sitting on more than $30 million in salary cap space … but don’t forget that the Packers utilize salary cap dollars to re-sign their own … we’re talking about the need to have cash reserves for the likes of Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb … not to mention that the Packers may still use some of that money to bring back EDS or possibly even Quarless or Jones.

The next week or so will indicate not only what Ted Thompson is thinking today, but just how the Packers will proceed in the NFL Draft in May.

Building a team is still about value and planning in Green Bay – not knee-jerking and salivating over the next high-priced player of the day to come along.