Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Advice for Building 2012 Green Bay Packers for Ted Thomspon

I decided to change the format of my off-season advice for Green Bay Packers general manger Ted Thompson this year. Last year I went position-by-position. This year I am going to give a Thompson a 10-point plan for how to deal with players that were on the 2011 roster:

#10 - Wish Pat Lee (CB) good luck on his future endeavors: It is a coin toss between Ahmad Carroll and Pat Lee for the worst cornerback drafted in the last decade by the Packers. Carroll looks like the obvious choice since he was taken in the first round while Lee was taken in the second round but the Sherminator was dual coach and GM that decided to draft Carroll. The much maligned Lee was taken by the current regime and frankly I expect much more out of Thompson drunk than I do out of a sober Sherminator so I actually think Lee is a bigger bust. After one good college season at Auburn, Lee had four injury riddled seasons in Green Bay that caused me more pain than almost any other Packer defender besides Justin Harrell so please don't even attempt to resign Lee.

#9 - Resign Howard Green (DE/DT) to a short term contract: Since the Packers claimed Green off waivers from the Jets he has been a decent cog along the defensive line but weight has always been an issue. Offer Green a contract for a couple years with very low base salaries but high work out bonuses tied directly to Green's weight.

#8 - Let Ryan Grant (RB) and Erik Walden (OLB) test the free agent market: I expect the market to be soft for Grant (injury prone and hasn't had a 100-yard rushing game since X-mas '09) and Walden (production dropped off as he dealt with legal issues surrounding a domestic dispute where his girl friend changed her story). I am fine with the Packers resigning Grant or Walden for the league minimum with no real guaranteed money. Offering either of those guys any more than that seems foolish since there are better options on the roster at running back (Alex Green, Brandon Saine, and James Starks) and the Packers need to invest free agent money or a high draft pick at outside linebacker to help Claymaker.

#7 - Lock-up Jarrett Bush (ST) before free agency commences: Notice that I listed Bush as a special teams player not a cornerback or safety. Bush has cobbled together a pretty impressive special teams career and the Packers can ill afford to lose him. In baseball the old adage is, it only takes one team. Case and point, the Detroit Tigers signing Prince Fielder. By no means am I comparing Bush's worth to the Packers to Fielder's worth to the Brewers. Fortunately in the NFL, it is harder for teams to overpay players because there is a salary cap.

#6 - Don't even consider giving Matt Flynn the franchise tag: People want to point to the tag and trade deal Thompson did with Corey Williams but that is a totally different situation because the Packers could have kept Williams if they didn't find a suitable trade partner. That's not the case with Flynn because if the Packers placed the franchise tag on Flynn he would sign it before the team had a chance to announce the transaction. In the unlikely event that the Packers didn't trade Flynn they would be paying Flynn roughly $5 million more than Aaron Rodgers. Plus what can the Packers reasonably expect to get for Flynn, a second round pick? Don't forget that the Packers will get a compensatory pick for Flynn leaving via free agency that could be a third round compensatory pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. As a result it seems like there is a ton of expensive downside risk in tagging Flynn for getting a second round pick as opposed to a third pick so don't look for Thompson to franchise tag Flynn even if he works contracts with Scott Wells (C) and Jermichael Finley (TE).

#5 - Convince Chad Clifton (LT) to retire: As much as it pains me to say it, Clifton no longer deserves to be the starting left tackle in Green Bay. Marshall Newhouse (LT) had some trouble in 2011 but with that experience under his belt the outlook is much better for Newhouse at 20% the price of Clifton. Hopefully Clifton says that injuries have caught up with him and decides to leave on his "own volition" instead of forcing the Packers to cut him.

#4 - Rework Donald Driver's (WR) contract: With arguably the deepest group of wide receivers (Randall Cobb, Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, James Jones, and Jordy Nelson) in the NFL the Packers could just cut Driver and probably not miss a beat in terms of talent. Unfortunately talent is not the only factor in the equation for success. From an outsider's perspective, Driver is the glue that holds the wide receivers together. Obviously there are not enough balls to go around to keep everyone happy but if Driver pulls a LeRoy Butler and renegotiates to take less money in 2012 and 2013 he can continue to be the positive role model in the locker room the Packers desperately need.

#3 - Sign Jermichael Finley (TE): The Packers need to decide whether to break the bank for the 24-year freak of nature or come up with a short-term solution (franchise tag or short-term contract extension). I say either tag Finley or sign him to a short-term deal. Plus keep in mind that the NFL is poised for a huge revenue bump following the 2013 season so the salary cap will increase dramatically. That will allow the Packers to delay what they have to do with all their skill position players because at some point they will have to let some of their talented skill position players leave via free agency. Don't start that exodus with Finley though, delay it for at least a year or two until the salary cap jumps.

#2 - Sign Scott Wells (C): I would just say franchise tag Wells to buy another year to see if you can get a quality center in the draft (i.e. Wisconsin's Peter Konz) but the offensive line has a general franchise tag as opposed to specific position franchise tags. That makes no sense to me because there is a different franchise tag number for tight ends and wide receivers so there should be different franchise tag numbers for tackles, guards, and centers because tackles and guards artificially inflate the offensive line franchise tag number for centers. Since there is only a general offensive line franchise tag it doesn't make sense to tag Wells since that would cost the Packers $9 million in 2012. Plus this year is supposed to be one of deepest crops of free agent centers in years (Nick Hardwick, Dan Koppen, Chris Myers, and Samson Satele) so instead of waiting for the market to sort out, the Packers should stick with their loyal dance partner instead of dipping their toe into uncharted waters. Wells has been their most consistent Packers offensive lineman for almost the last decade. I hope Ted Thompson learned from failing to hold onto Cullen Jenkins last year and signs Wells even if it means signing Wells to a contract in the neighborhood of a five-years for $35 million.

#1 - Start talking about another contract extension for Aaron Rodgers (QB): Reggie White joined the Packers because of Brett Favre. With a Super Bowl ring and a league MVP trophy under his belt, Rodgers is entering the same stratosphere as Favre circa the mid-1990's. It might seem silly to re-negotiate with Rodgers now but the price is only going up for quarterbacks. Sure it might bristle some other guys in the locker room (i.e. Greg Jennings, Clay Matthews, or B.J. Raji) if the Packers take care of Rodgers first but the Packers are only going as far as Rodgers takes them so once they settle on another mega-extension with Rodgers they can start to take care of the rest of the roster.

Once the lockout was lifted last summer I gave Ted Thompson a free agent shopping guide. Although I plan to have a number of other Cheesehead sports post in between, make sure to check back in the middle of March for my 2012 free agent shopping guide for Ted Thompson.

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