Packers’ Failed in Not Making a Trade for a Middle Linebacker


I know it’s not how he operates, but Green Bay Packers general manager, Ted Thompson, failed by not making a trade before Tuesday’s 3:00 P.M deadline.

Thompson is notorious for taking pride in a “homegrown” approach, while rarely making trades or signing veterans free agents. It is a mentality that I personally have come to respect and admire, but I thought he made the wrong decision in not making a transaction Tuesday.

Here’s Why:

Unlike any of the other three major, professional sports in the United States, trading has become a rare commodity in the NFL. Time and time again, you see teams in other professional sports making deals at the trade deadline to strengthen their chances at a championship run. The World Series runner-up, New York Mets, this season are a perfect example.

Generally that has not been the norm in the NFL, and trading players mid-season is rare.

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Especially if you’re a guy like Thompson, who rarely makes transactions at all and would much rather build his team in the NFL draft. A strategy that has worked, but this season has presented some different circumstances.

On October 21st, named the Green Bay Packers the most banged up team in the NFL, with injured players missing 78 total games this season. Despite being burdened by injuries, the Packers were still undefeated at the time and looked to be very strong with their depth.

Then they walked into Denver this past Sunday night, which drew some serious concerns.

Losing to the Broncos 29-10, the Packers showed some serious weaknesses on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball. The one position I personally noticed more than any other was the middle linebacker position.

Alongside Clay Matthews, Nate Palmer started this game at the middle linebacker position to be benched for rookie Jake Ryan. With a banged up offensive line and two sub par running backs, Denver was able to rush for 160 yards on the Packers which included three rushing touchdowns.

Green Bay Packers linebacker Jake Ryan (47). Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

With Palmer being benched, Ryan stepped in and played as well as you could expect from a rookie playing against an experienced offense. I am somebody in Ryan’s corner in terms of what I think he can become in this league, but he is not ready to be the anchor of this defense just yet. He is very underrated from an athleticism and coverage standpoint, but he needs time to develop and mold into that very solid player I believe he can become.

It should also be noted that Matthews went down with an ankle injury in this game and although he was able to come back in and join the defense, it is a cause for concern considering how valuable he is to this football team.

Trading for a middle linebacker should have been the emphasis for the Packers and Ted Thompson on Tuesday, and I feel they seriously failed in that aspect.

The name Brian Cushing was the first to come to my mind as he has struggled this season, and the Packers could have gotten him for something along the lines of a fifth round pick. Cushing currently plays in the same 3-4 Base defense the Packers run, and is somebody who brings a tremendous amount of heart and tenacity to the field.

Although he has had his off the field issues, pairing him along side Matthews at the middle linebacker position could have done wonders for this defense this season. Matthews and Cushing both played together at USC, and posses a tremendous amount of talent. A change of scenery could of been just what was needed for Cushing, and the Packers could have gotten him cheap.

The next name I thought of was Derrick Johnson of the Kansas City Chiefs.

Johnson also plays in a 3-4 base defense in Kansas City, and is an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season. He is 32 years old, and with the Chiefs currently at 3-5 and struggling, this seemed to be a good move for both parties. Johnson currently has 35 tackles this season with two sacks, his solid play could have made this a championship move for the Packers.

Oct 4, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Kansas City Chiefs inside linebacker Derrick Johnson (56) against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals won 36-21. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

I do want to reiterate that I have a tremendous amount of respect for Ted Thompson and the team he has been able to build here in Green Bay. I just feel a deal needed to be made on the defensive side of the ball given the injuries to the position and this team as a unit this season. Although I like what Jake Ryan brings to the table, I don’t see him as somebody able to become a full time starter just yet. Palmer falls into the same boat, although I feel he is less talented than Ryan.

With the tremendously tough schedule ahead, bringing in a veteran at the middle linebacker position would have helped in defending Cam Newton and the read option this weekend, while also helping the Packers defend the Minnesota Vikings and Adrian Peterson in their two remaining match ups.

My case of citizen G.M. says the Packers needed to make a trade on Tuesday, as it would’ve helped them tremendously in route of Super Bowl championship, especially with the injuries and lack of depth at the middle linebacker position.

Agree or disagree? Feel free to comment below.