By re-signing Davante Adams and Corey Linsley in quick succession, the Green Bay Packers are avoiding making the same mistake as last year.
Last year Ted Thompson got it all wrong in free agency.
He watched a ton of talent leave the building, and, for the most part, failed to find adequate replacements. This could explain the proactive approach he’s taken this week, re-signing Davante Adams and Corey Linsley ahead of time.
Thompson allowed a number of important players to walk out the door last year, banking on replacing them via the draft and by signing cheaper free agents.
In some cases it worked.
Eddie Lacy struggled to stay healthy his final two years in Green Bay, and it’s got even worse for him in Seattle. Twice a 1,000-yard rusher with the Packers, Lacy has amassed just 179 yards and no touchdowns in nine games for the Seahawks.
The Packers are in a much stronger position with rookie pairing Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones. The duo has combined for 992 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground at a healthy average of 4.35 yards per carry.
Thompson can also be pleased with his work at guard.
Detroit threw the kitchen sink at Pro Bowler T.J. Lang, handing him a three-year, $28.5 million deal last spring. Lang had another strong season away from the Packers, but Thompson’s gamble on Jahri Evans paid off.
Evans cost the Packers just $2.25 million on a one-year deal, and the 34-year-old delivered when healthy.
But that’s where the joy ends.
Micah Hyde wore a number of hats in Green Bay’s defense, and the development he made during his four-year tenure with the Packers was deserving of a new deal. I wrote about why Thompson had to bring him back last spring.
Ted disagreed. Hyde headed to Buffalo, bagged five interceptions (as of Week 16) and secured his first trip to the Pro Bowl.
Remember how important Jared Cook was to the Packers’ offense down the stretch last year?
He could stretch the field vertically and made a number of big plays. Finally working with top-tier quarterback, Cook had become a major weapon in Mike McCarthy’s offense.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. That couldn’t be more true in this case.
I was wrong on Bennett too. I was a huge fan of the signing. But in hindsight, it will go down as one of the worst decisions Thompson has made.
Bennett posted a zero in the touchdown column, and a one in the “quit on his team” category. Kendricks, meanwhile, has disappointed with just 203 yards and one touchdown after 15 games.
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Thompson let Julius Peppers leave the building and replaced him with Ahmad Brooks. The 33-year-old Brooks was a solid addition to Green Bay’s defense when healthy, but Peppers continued to defeat Father Time by leading the Panthers with 11 sacks (entering Week 17).
Oh how the Packers could have done with his sacks this year.
Perhaps Thompson’s biggest blunder of recent years was allowing Casey Hayward to leave. Two years ago he wasn’t considered worth paying.
Hayward has since become a shutdown corner for the Chargers, earned two Pro Bowl nods and could land a second All-Pro selection at the end of the season. Meanwhile the cornerback position remains a weak link on the Packers’ roster.
It’s no wonder, then, that Thompson has acted quickly this time around.
He’s re-signed Adams and Linsley before speculation could even begin about their futures. Both are important pieces of McCarthy’s offense, and they will importantly remain in Green Bay.
Thompson has also gone in strong, throwing money at the pair. Re-signing these two was a priority. Credit where credit is due. Thompson has paid what he had to.
Maybe it’s a coincidence. But it’s also entirely possible Thompson’s decision to re-sign these two so quickly is a sign he didn’t want history to repeat itself.