Actually, Signing Our Own Free Agents Does Count – Especially This Year

In case you didn’t know, Ted Thompson’s not a big free agency guy. Some Packer fans just love to whine about it and when they are introduced to the knowledge that Ted signs his own free agents, they usually respond that that “doesn’t count” for some reason (so they better not second guess him for letting Casey Hayward walk).

Ok, that’s right – having David Bakhtiari, the best pass-blocking offensive lineman in the entire league, playing left tackle, the most difficult position to play on the offensive line, doesn’t count. We should have signed someone else’s left tackle! Funny thing is, if we could pick anyone in the NFL, even one of your precious Cowboys lineman, they would have been a worse pass blocker than David Bakhtiari. That’s the definition of “best.”

Having Mike Daniels, the heart and soul of the defense, re-signed probably doesn’t matter, either. H3ll, he didn’t need to re-sign Aaron Rodgers – he should just sign Mike Glennon or pick up Jay Cutler when he becomes a free agent!

Oh, but signing your own free agents is a given, you say? Then why were there 11 third-round compensatory picks awarded this year? Because signing your own picks is not a given. You have to make judgment calls and let guys walk.

Ted is pretty good at those judgement calls. Most Ted-haters will bring up Casey Hayward, since he just had a phenomenal year. Actually, his year was much better than any year he ever had with the Packers, which played into letting him walk. Ted didn’t know that his Pro Bowl corner would suffer a career-ending injury in week 1 and that his first and second round picks from last year would get injured and regress. Since he also had Micah Hyde and Ladarius Gunter on the depth chart, letting Hayward walk was a calculated risk. Given that they went to the NFCC game, it’s hard to argue with the end result. I maintain this was the best thing for both parties, because Hayward never balled out like that in the Packers defensive system.

Cullen Jenkins is another guy that people point to when wanting to show how Ted is wrong. After 2010, Jenkins was 30 and injuries had limited him to 31 games the previous three seasons. No one knew that in ages 30 to 32 that he would have more starts and sacks than he did in ages 27 to 29. Ted made a judgement call and was wrong about Jenkins. Still, the Packers also went 15-1 the next year without him.

Sometimes you miss, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a lot of missess in TTs record of letting guys walk – that’s two good examples in a dozen years. He was lambasted for letting Mike Wahle and Macro Rivera walk back in the day, but that was the absolutely correct call in hindsight. It was a difficult decision, he took a lot of flak, and ended up being rights.

He may he conservative, but he does conservative right. He drafts well and gets the right guys (Bakhtiari, Sitton, Lang, Daniels, Rodgers, Jordy, Cobb, Shields, Collins, Matthews, Burnett, etc) re-signed. It’s every bit as important as signing free agents from other teams, like he does with guys like Peppers and Cook.

With guys like Lang, Perry, Lacy, Cook, Hyde, Tretter, and a host of others all free agents, this year is more important than any in recent memory. Not keeping up in signing his own guys – something he has been able to do for the most part so far – could leave this team with multiple holes in the starting lineup on both sides of the ball (more holes than a single draft could possibly fill).

For a team that still needs a little more talent to get over the hump (and they were so close to getting over the hump last year), not keeping a few of these guys could slide them right back to the bottom of the hill… well, not all the way to the bottom – we have the Bears, Vikings, and Lions in our division, which is nice.

Now go get your guys signed, Ted!

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