Monday, March 18, 2013

What Ted Thompson Could Do With Four Million Dollars

It's been one of those weeks if you are a Green Bay Packers fan. It's been another "Ted Thompson" free agency period that we have become so accustom to where Ted sits back and doesn't pounce on any big free agents. It's a sign of confidence that I highly admire in Thompson. My own philosophy is that teams that are desperate are the one's who feverishly sign as many free agents as possible and break the banks and salary caps. Ted has an extraordinary amount of trust in his homegrown talent and is hesitant to sign free agents year after year.

This piece I have put together does not insist that I think Ted Thompson should go out and get free agents, nor do I think he will. This is simply to take a look at what is left out there that (in the case Ted does open up his check book and spend a little) could help the Packers in areas where they wouldn't have to waste a draft pick on. Heading into the draft, Our biggest needs are offensive line, defensive line, safety, and linebacker.

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Packers are sitting around 22 million in cap room. (Was at 18.7 million until today when A.J. Hawk's pay cut was announced that he went from 7.05 million to 3.6 million) Ideally, the Packers would end up spending that on extensions for Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews. Also, with the draft approaching, teams usually spend about 5-6 million on their draft picks. With that said, it is expected that the Packers could continue cutting some players on the roster. One move that Green Bay could take a look at is cutting Tramon Williams, who is set to make just under a down payment on a house of 6 million dollars in 2013. He's 30 years old which isn't terrible for a defensive back. His number declined in from 2011 to 2012. It has been rumored that he may have to compete for a starting spot heading into trainings camp this year. The possibility is definitely there.

So, going with that and a few other cuts (Marshall Newhouse, for example), let's say Ted Thompson has a good 10 million dollars sitting on his desk staring him in his eyes. 5 million for free agency, the other 5 million for draft picks. What kind of talent is out there that Ted could get the most for his money? Basically, TT is Macklemore and free agency is his thrift shop. Let's see how Ted could pop some tags.

Ted Thompson on his offseason vacation enjoying a soft drink with two locals.

Rashad Jennings - RB - Age: 27 - 2012 salary: $574,612
Ted's 2013 Contract Offer: 2 Years, $1,500,000 ($250,000 signing bonus) 

Rashad Jennings spent most of his 2012 backing up Jaguars star running back Maurice Jones-Drew until MJD was injured and Jacksonville went with a running back by committee for the rest of the season. Jennings saw more touches, but not as many as scouts would have liked to see to see Jennings' full potential. It's worth noting that the Jaguars had the second worst record in the NFL last year, thus gave up on their season quite early. Rashad is a big, power runner which would compliment the Packers' speedy DuJuan Harris really well. He's a great blocker and a great pass catcher. He can also break for big runs at straight speed as well as break through arm tackles like it's nothing. His durability is a question, but so was Cedric Benson's and we ended up signing him last year. Speaking of Benson, Ted paid under a million dollars for Cedric so I can't imagine he wants to spend more than that on another runner. The upside for Rashad Jennings and the Packers is far to great to ignore.

Danario Alexander - WR - Age: 24 - 2012 salary: $490,000
Ted's 2013 Contract Offer: 4 Years, $4,000,000 ($1,000,000 guaranteed)

Alexander caught everything last year, including Champ Bailey
Where do I begin here? Let's get the negatives out of the way first I suppose. He's had five knee surgeries during his football career, starting when he played for Missouri. Last year in November, Alexander was asked on how his knees feel and commented that "My left knee felt just like my right knee...No thought goes into how it feels, and no effort is spent trying to baby it. Same with the hamstring. After everything I’ve dealt with, I consider myself blessed to feel this way." Shortly after this interview with San Diego Union-Tribune, Danario had one of the best two-month stretches by any wide receiver in recent memory. In November to December, Alexander racked in 37 catches for 657 yards and 7 touchdowns. He definitely shined in a very lackluster Chargers offense. He finished the season with the highest per-play efficiency rankings among receivers for many analysts. So essentially, if he can pass your team's physical inspection, he sound be a nice, cheap steal in this free agent class. The Packers need for him is obvious. Greg Jennings went to the Vikings. Donald Driver retired. The Packers need depth at wide receiver as James Jones' contract is set to expire after this season and Jordy Nelson's the next after. Alexander could be a legit deep threat for Aaron Rodgers, which could add yet to the already elite arsenal for our offense.

Sebastian Vollmer - OT - Age: 28 - 2012 salary: $650,000
Ted's 2013 Contract Offer: 2 Years, $2,000,000 ($650,000 guaranteed)

Here is Vollmer ripping Chris Long's head off.
By now you should all know I'm not a fan of Marshall Newhouse. But, if you didn't, well now you do. Bryan Bulaga is going to get a look at left tackle during training camp, which puts a partial void at the right tackle position. I like Don Barclay, don't get me wrong. However, I know our track record with offensive linemen and injuries so in my eyes the extra depth can always help. Sebastian Vollmer is six-foot-eight, three hundred thirty pounds. He bounced back from an injury in 2011 and had an outstanding season in 2012 for the Patriots. He's very good at both run and pass blocking. Vollmer is quite versatile as he can play both left and right tackle. Ted wouldn't have to spend much on Vollmer, and giving him a look would be very smart if they want to keep Aaron Rodgers around for a while. Eric Winston is another free agent offensive tackle on the market, but would likely require a contract where he would be making a few million dollars a year, which is something Ted wants to avoid as he doesn't like big gambles and "all-ins" for free agents.

Michael Hoomanawanui - TE - Age: 24 - 2012 salary: $540,000
Ted's 2013 Contract Offer: 3 Years, $1,900,000 ($700,000 guaranteed)

We lost Tom Crabtree to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which was poor management by the Packers for not tendering him. But, it's water under the bridge now. The Packers have four other tight ends, with Jermichael Finley at the top of the depth chart. Then you have the injured Andrew Quarless, the unproven D.J. Williams, and Ryan Taylor who has caught one pass for 11 yards in 3 NFL seasons. Hoomanawanui was 3rd in command with the Patriots last year under Gronkowski and Hernandez. Hoomanawanui is a much better blocker than Crabtree, is a better offensive threat than Crabtree, and has a way cooler name than Crabtee. I say Ted grabs him, just so I can see all of the Packer fans attempt to spell his name on social media outlets.(especially since "traitor" was so difficult).

With these four signings, Ted Thompson just spent $3,633,000 with just over 6 million to use for draft picks. Now these would be perfect scenarios, however they aren't at all farfetched. The Packers might take the high road and focus strictly on the draft to patch their holes, but I wouldn't be surprised if we brought in one or two players to help our needs.

Until next time, Beers, Brats, and Championships.

Andrew Vrchota (

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