Well, they were right. They said Ted Thompson was going to surprise people and he sure did! He always makes it a priority to sign his own and this year, he let a lot of his homegrown guys leave. With seven players defecting, the cupboards are feeling bare and fans are getting restless.
Now, he did re-sign Nick Perry (*fist pump*) and Don Barclay (*jerk-off motion*), but fans were expecting a lot more players to be retained. Even though the numbers don’t feel great, what did the Packers really lose in free agency?
Datone Jones – a first rounder who they brought in to contain read option… when read option was a thing. Now he just doesn’t fit the scheme. He only started 7 games in 4 years and in 2016, playing 548 snaps, he netted a whopping 1 sack. Is that a big loss?
Julius Peppers – a hall of fame player went home to Carolina. Though he is a freak of nature to still be playing, he’s 105 years old. He had some sacks last year, but far too often he was completely neutralized by mediocre linemen. Let’s not get worked up about losing a name player who was a leader two years ago. It may feel like a double whammy because he and Jones both played the same position, but that doesn’t make him irreplaceable.
JC Tretter – a utility backup that was a nice luxury. He wants to play center, his best position. Corey Linsely is the starting center, though, and we can’t pay starter money to backups; the game just doesn’t work that way.
Jared Cook – we upgraded to Martellus Bennett and picked up Lance Kendricks. Don’t lose sleep.
Micah Hyde – a good slot guy who’s safety snaps now belong to ascending Kentrell Brice. He made some plays down the stretch, but was really only on the field because Randall and Rollins were out. Signing Davon House replaces his depth. I really liked having him, but you can’t give borderline top 10 safety money to a backup role player with speed limitations.
Eddie Lacy – oooh, this one isn’t as easy to shake off. I just loved watching Eddie Lacy play, he is a beast and entertaining as h#ll. But he wasn’t a good fit for the Packers scheme. The offense actually increased tempo and caught fire when he was out. It sucks that he went to Seattle (douche-hawks), but we can’t just sign everyone in the league that we don’t want our competitors to have. Besides, if you pay him all that money, imagine how much China Food he’s gonna eat!
TJ Lang – now we’re drawing blood. This one will leave a mark. Here’s a Pro Bowl player in the prime of his career. Unfortunately, he’s getting paid like it. Good for him, though. In a perfect world, he stays home and keeps dominating the right side of the line. But it’s not a perfect world. It’s hard to invest that kind of money into the guard position and still be competitive. Making it worse, there isn’t a clear-cut heir apparent – but there are options! This one hurts, it’s not hopeless and it doesn’t flush their Super Bowl dreams down the toilet, but it hurts.
So that’s it. One hole in the starting lineup. Your backups and roleplayers can rotate every year, but as long as you have your key core guys at the premier positions, you can compete. The Packers have to fill a hole at guard. Gaurd. Not quarterback, not left tackle, but guard. Keep it in perspective, this offense is still stacked.
This has not been a mass exodus leading to certain disaster. It’s been a typical offseason where you have to keep renewing your roster and developing players.
Seven guys left, one was upgraded, leaving only one full-time starting position open.
The Packers have 8 draft picks (thanks to that whopping 5th rounder the NFL gave us for a Pro Bowl corner) next month. Most Ted Thompson draft picks makes the roster and there’s always an undrafted free agent or two, so it’s not like we won’t be able to field 53 guys.
This is how Ted works and he’s a highly successful football GM.
Relax, it’s going to be a long ride.