Well, Jared, it was a really good year. I had a good time watching you and, once you got healthy, it seemed like you had a good time, too. It was an exciting playoff run and you were a big part of it, so thank you – there’s few things better than sticking it to the Cowboys.
It seemed like you were a slam dunk to come back, though, and I’m not quite sure what happened. Maybe you got a bit high on your horse, maybe your agent wanted to be a little tough guy (which is what I usually think in these situations), or maybe it was just an unfortunate misunderstanding. Whatever the reason, it means you’re not coming back.
This is sad for us fans, and may leave you feeling confused based on all the previous media reports. So let me help you understand by explaining how Ted Thompson works.
A long time ago, there was a big athletic tight end on the Kansas City Chiefs named Tony Gonzalez. Maybe you’ve heard of him, he was a lot like you, just older. Now when Ted was new to this job, he was frequently lambasted for depending too much on the draft (kind of like he is today). Well, there’s an old story about Ted and Tony Gonzalez. Local reporter Jason Wilde has talked about it on local radio shows.
As the story goes, Ted had a trade agreement with the Chiefs to get Tony Gonzalez for a third round pick. Then, minutes before the trade deadline, the Chiefs say (paraphrased) “Actually, we’ve got another suitor that will give us a second round pick – do you want to match it?”
Ted calls bullsh!t (paraphrased) – “No you don’t, we had a deal and I’m not giving in to these strongarm tactics.” The Chiefs won’t relent, Ted won’t give in to their hostage negotiations and the deal falls through. Later it became clear that Ted was right: there was no other trade partner. Tony stayed with the Chiefs and it wasn’t until two years later (after GM Carl Peterson was fired) that he was actually traded.
In the end, I felt bad for Tony, because he was a class act who could have won a Super Bowl with the Packers had the Chiefs not gotten greedy.
But the real story comes from Jason Wilde, who was given the details of what happened behind the scenes by John Schneider, who was on Thompson’s staff back in the day. After the story got out, Ted called John into his office for a talk. He said (paraphrased) “John, I know we’re getting roasted in the media for not making moves, so I understand why you would tell the story of what happened – to quiet the wolves. But that’s not how we do business, let the wolves howl all they want – I don’t care. We will keep matters in-house. We protect our information and our plans and it gives us an advantage.”
Since then, stories of the inner workings of the Packers attempted moves have not made it to the public. They work feverishly on all kinds of moves and no one ever hears about them unless and until they are done deals.
Think about the Julius Peppers deal that was done almost exactly two years prior to your signing. The Packers reached out to him, negotiated a deal, flew him to Green Bay, took pictures all around Lambeau, signed a contract, and sent him home before anyone knew the Packers were even interested.
This was reminiscent of how Martellus Bennett signed. After you didn’t take the Packers offer (which they felt was fair and you obviously didn’t), they didn’t get into an emotional negotiation and they didn’t leak a bunch of stories to drum up chatter and controversy. Instead, they quietly moved to the next option. Martellus Bennett was sitting in the waiting room reading four year old Highlights for Children magazines while you were in the negotiating room. When you walked out, they called “next” and he walked in, Ted made what he thought was a fair offer, and Marty took it.
That’s not how all clubs work, so maybe you and your agent had a different idea of how it should or would be handled, but that’s how the Packers work under Ted Thompson. Unfortunately, because fans don’t hear about all the juicy inner workings of those almost deals, they assume the Packers sit on their hands, take naps, and do all sorts of unproductive things during free agency (which makes for humorous memes).
Imagine how many other deals they pursued that didn’t quite finish. These things aren’t publicized and most of the negotiations are Ted offering a fair deal, then sticking to the terms on a take it or leave it basis. Players can then decide if they want an above-market deal from a different team or a fair market deal from the Packers.
For example, take your own situation last year, Jared. You came to town and had a meeting, where I suspect the Packers made an offer, but you wanted more. After a couple weeks, which I would guess were filled with discussions with other teams that didn’t yield a better deal, you came back to Green Bay, signed a fair deal, and had a great year.
That’s how Ted works.
In case you haven’t noticed, he doesn’t make emotional decisions, but he does try to make fair ones to improve his team. You know, the team that made the playoffs eight years in a row. Ask the litany of players who have signed with him. This isn’t a club that makes sensational headline deals that result in cutting guys with multiple years left under contract. He’s more calculated, he’s more stable, he’s more sensible.
Now, the fans don’t always like this, but it’s pretty clear Ted cares far more about putting together a competitive team on a healthy salary cap than what a bunch of ungrateful whiners thinks.
You and your agent handled this like a business and you handled it with class. I just wish it would have worked out differently. I wish it was handled more like a game than a business. I wish it was handled like you are a millionaire that could compete with great team and the best quarterback of all time for championship glory instead of it being handled like an investment where you are looking for the biggest return on your contract.
Well, that’s that. I hope you enjoyed your one career playoff run. It was a doozy.
Good luck in your future endeavors.