It’s been a crazy offseason for the Packers. Ted Thompson, normally very quiet (possibly in a month-long vodka-induced coma) at this stage of the season, has acquired Martellus Bennett, Lance Kendricks, Davon House, Ricky Jean Francois, Justin McCrary, and now Ego Ferguson in the span of a month.
Has Ted lost his mind? Is he finally listening to the fans who have given him a Super Bowl blueprint every year in free agency? How can this all be explained?
If you look at how Ted has done business over the years, you’ll see that he has some loose rules or guidelines that he uses in his approach. I call them The Tenets of Ted. Chief among the Tenets of Ted are:
1 – It’s a Young Man’s Game – Younger plays are cheaper and get hurt less. If they are on their first contract, they also have more financial motivation than a vet who already hit his big second contract.
2 – Live on Margin – A healthy cap is key to competing in the NFL on a year-in year-out basis. Ted probably doesn’t have a HELOC and a bunch of credit card debt and he keeps his business budget just as healthy as his personal one. A lot of teams who are competitors for a couple years fade away because they couldn’t manage their cap (see: Saints, New Orleans). Ted won’t do that.
3 – Buyer Beware – Every free agent that signs with another team is a guy whose original team (the team that knows more about him than anyone else) decided that he wasn’t worth whatever someone else is signing him for.
Look closely and you’ll see that the Packers offseason transactions don’t really break any of these rules. With one exception, these were all bargain guys with little to no guaranteed money. They also weren’t the 36 year-old guy who is looking for one last run. Ego was actually a waiver pickup on contract number one and could be cut with no impact.
These are all pretty safe moves without a lot of downside. I would wager to guess that Ted would have preferred a more known (and quiet) commodity in Jared Cook to Martellus Bennett, but Ted has shown before the he’s not gonna take no guff from nobody – that’s not how he works. He’s getting a bit out of his comfort zone here, but he’s seen what a difference a tight end like this can make and Bennett is a pretty solid bet to product based on his history. For the most part, though, these are safe moves that fit the Tenets of Ted.
Where Ted is tweaking his approach slightly is that he’s building camp competition with more veteran presence. Now all those UDFAs are going to have to battle for a spot against guys who have been around the league a bit. It’s a little lean toward the Patriot Way and I like it. I don’t want him to go overboard, but I think it’s going to raise the competitive level of the team a bit. These guys won’t all make it, but they will make the team better by their training camp presence, pushing younger guys to hit more of their potential sooner.
Ted hasn’t changed his stripes, he’s just slightly altering his approach.
Those stripes aren’t going anywhere.