Packer fans have clamored for more aggressive offseasons ever since the aggressive approach that earned them a Super Bowl in ’97 left them old and unable to get over the hump again for over a decade.
Yes, fans love to talk about how signings like Reggie White propelled them to a Super Bowl (without, of course, mentioning that the White signing happened when no one had any idea of how free agency worked and that a guy like that would never make it to free agency again). However, they don’t talk about the aftermath, where a team of aging vets like Sean Jones, Santana Dotson, and Eugene Robinson robbed the roster of young developmental players (guys like Tramon Williams that rose through the ranks to become great players), and prevented them from returning to the promised land again until a new regime took over.
The amazing string of success of the Ted Thompson era, unmatched by any other team in the conference, wasn’t enough for fans because the offseasons weren’t full of “excitement.”
“Ted sucks,” they said, “he never signs anyone!”
What about Charles Woodson?
“That was a long time ago, it doesn’t count.”
What about guys like Bakhtiari, Daniels, Jordy, Shields, and other core players that he extended?
“Signing our own free agents doesn’t count, we want guys from other teams!”
So you want players whose original teams don’t want any more?
“No… well… we want established vets with a proven track record – that’s how you win and Ted didn’t want to win!”
Well what about Martellus Bennett?
“No, we only want free agents that will be good!”
Ok, but don’t you want compensatory picks? Those guy us guys like Daniels and Sitton. Those fit into the free agency equation too, right?
“What’s a compensatory pick?”
Ok, Ted was never going to win over the entire fanbase with a conservative approach, no matter how auccessful it was.
Fans want exciting offseasons as much as they want post season success, even if those things aren’t related.
Now, with Gute calling the shots, things have been a little different and fans are responding well. Gute actually gets a lot of credit from fans for making phone calls that don’t even result in transactions. Apparently these are the fans that believe if Ted made calls, but they didn’t hear about it, that they didn’t count.
At any rate, Gute is making more moves than Ted, but fans still seem to want more, as free agency binges apparently guarantee Super Bowls (see: 2017 Jacksonville Jaguars, 2016 New York Giants, and the Eagles Dream Team of 2011 – who actually missed the playoffs for the first time in 4 years that season).
Maybe that will help the Packers this year, propelling them to the Super Bowl that Ted Thompson could never get them to (not the one that he did, mind you, but all the ones he didn’t). If they don’t make it, many fans will undoubtedly say they should have been more aggressive.
But for a true litmus test, to really see if offseason aggression can buy a Super Bowl victory, let’s look at what the Rams are doing this year.
They recently traded a first round pick for a wide receiver with one year left on his deal – a receiver going to his third team in as many years and who never hit double digit TDs in a season (a receiver who was supposed to be the missing piece to a Super Championship last year – football is a fickle game).
They also traded for or signed badboy and perennial loser Ndamukong Suh, volatile Marcus Peters, and aging Aquib Talib, all of whom were on many Packer fans wish lists this year.
So, will they win it all?
The odds are still against them.
And if they don’t, they’ll be hurting.
Aaron Donald (the best player in the game) is coming off contract with wonder-talent Todd Gurley right behind him. Then they have their franchise QB wrapping up his rookie deal. Add in the four high-priced acquisitions above, plus developing in-house talent, and you have an all-or-nothing season looming.
This is a team that is no stranger to aggressive moves, though. Last year, they traded a second round (and EJ Gaines) pick for Sammy Watkins, only to see him leave as a free agent this year. Last season, he had 39 catches for 593 yards. That’s it. That’s what they have to show for their second round pick. Total. He’s gone now.
I couldn’t imagine the uproar for a a Packers GM that gets 593 yards out of a second round pick.
Personally, I’d rather have a team that is consistently competing and hoping to break through every year instead of one “all-in” attempt that could set your franchise back for a decade.
But I suppose those type of approaches don’t give us “exciting” offseasons like this. Of course, it won’t even matter if the Rams just bought the Super Bowl.
Maybe, just maybe, they didn’t.
Time will tell.