Julius Peppers is one free agent that panned out for the Packers.
Everyone knows, that over the years, Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson has been reluctant to use free agency, preferring instead, to stick to his draft and develop philosophy.
Of course, when you look at the results produced from that strategy, it’s hard to argue with it. Except for the fact, that every year, it seems the Packers could be helped by a few more veteran additions.
It’s hard to know if adding another player or two would make the difference between getting to the NFC Championship game two of the last three years or winning the Super Bowl.
But the one thing we can say, is that the 2016 Packers relied too much on young talent and in the end, it burned them. And with a number of players set to leave via free agency, Green Bay has got to dip its toe further into the veteran market than ever before.
Take a look at cornerback for instance. The Packers have three young corners on the roster in Damarious Randall, Quinten Rollins and LaDarius Gunter. Micah Hyde is a free agent and is more of a safety anyways, so if Thompson doesn’t sign any vets, he will simply be adding another rookie to a young group that is already unproven.
Certainly, the draft can be an immediate fix sometimes. The Chiefs got an elite corner right away with Marcus Peters two years ago and others have before too. But at the end of the first round, finding that guy is less likely than if Green Bay were drafting near the top 10.
Besides, cornerback is a need right now and Thompson doesn’t like drafting for need and in fact he shouldn’t, it’s a bad idea. Ultimately, it leads to mistakes. But if that is the only avenue used for roster development, than what choice does he have?
Which is why, in order to preserve his philosophy of selecting the best player available, Thompson should sign some veteran defenders, addressing the need that way, while also bringing in young talent through the draft at the same time.
Draft a couple corners sure, but sign a veteran or two as well. If Davon House gets cut, bring him back. Dig deep and find a gem, just like in the draft.
When Thompson and the Packers choose to sign free agents, generally, it’s worked out. The most recent examples of Julius Peppers and Jared Cook have both panned out, so why not expand a little bit and add a few veterans each offseason, instead of one or two every couple years?
It makes sense not to throw silly money at players that aren’t worth it. That’s exactly the kind of thing that can screw up your salary cap. But that doesn’t mean the Packers can’t be more active when it comes to low-risk, high-reward free agents.
The Patriots make a killing singing these kinds of players. Just look at guys like Alan Branch or Chris Hogan this last year. Neither was given big money, but both made big impacts. Those are the kinds of moves the Packers need to pursue.
They will strike out on some, sure, but on others, they may strike gold.
Yet, you can’t win if you don’t play the game. For years, Thompson has ignored free agency and it’s hurt the Packers. Hopefully, with a team ready to win now, he will finally change his ways.
And maybe if Thompson realized, that by adding veterans, he can better stick to his best player available ideals in the draft, he would.
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