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Best and Worst Offseason Moves: Green Bay Packers

Leveraging linebacker A.J. Hawk into taking a significant pay cut to stay with the Green Bay Packers was one of general manager Ted Thompson's best moves so far this year.

Leveraging linebacker A.J. Hawk into taking a significant pay cut to stay with the Green Bay Packers was one of general manager Ted Thompson’s best moves so far this year.

Covering the Green Bay Packers beat in the doldrums between the Super Bowl and the NFL Draft is either the easiest or the hardest job in the world, depending on how you want to look at it. Trying to evaluate the offseason moves of a team that doesn’t make many is a real challenge.

General manager Ted Thompson builds slowly, methodically, almost obsessively through the draft. Players who thrive in Green Bay he rewards with lucrative contracts. He is not afraid to make men like kicker Mason Crosby and fullback John Kuhn the highest-paid men at their positions. On the other hand, he’s not afraid to play hardball with players who do not live up to expectations or who are nearly past their peak. He makes them an offer and he doesn’t blink. Players too proud to take his offer usually live to regret it.

Never has Thompson held truer to form than this year. Fortunately, for the purposes of this series, he hasn’t gotten it all right. Now that we have pulled the red pencil from behind our ears and licked the lead, we are ready to dole out the grades.

Best Moves

Linebacker A.J. Hawk, who has been rock-solid reliable but has never lived up to his first-round draft status, realized that he had to take a pay cut or face being waived. He chose the former option, accepting a $7.25 million reduction in salary over the next three years to stay in Green Bay. It was a smart move for both parties. Hawk avoided the unappealing prospect of unemployment or playing for the veteran’s minimum somewhere else. The Packers saved valuable cap space that will give them the flexibility they need as they work to conclude negotiations with quarterback Aaron Rodgers and linebacker Clay Matthews III.

Prior to the 2012 regular season, wide receiver Greg Jennings turned down Thompson’s offer of $10 million a year. After Jennings misse significant time last year due to injury, Thompson lowered his bid to $8 million. Jennings decided to take his talents elsewhere and ended up signing with the Minnesota Vikings for somewhat less than Thompson had originally offered. In parting ways with Jennings, the Packers not only save money, they also get younger and healthier at the wide receiver position. Although their offensive production will probably take a hit, Green Bay has proven they can win with or without Jennings on the field. Still, the loss of Jennings does leave a void on the roster, so it seems likely that Thompson will draft a young prospect this year.

Worst Move

Many fans would probably say that Thompson’s worst move so far has been his failure to sign running back Steven Jackson, who briefly flirted with the Packers before settling on the Atlanta Falcons instead. However, since there was never any indication that Green Bay was actually Jackson’s first choice, this hardly seems like a failure on Thompson’s part.

Where Thompson did fail was in choosing to bring back tight end Jermichael Finley for another year. By electing to keep Finley on the roster, Green Bay was forced to cough up a $3 million roster bonus last month and will be paying him in excess of $8 million this year.

It's not clear why Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson chose to bring back tight end Jermichael Finley at such a high salary.

It’s not clear why Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson chose to bring back tight end Jermichael Finley at such a high salary.

People love to rave about Finley’s potential as a receiving threat, but in no season has he ever remotely lived up to this supposed potential. Despite playing with one of the most accurate quarterbacks in the league, he had the third most drops (nine) and merely the 24th-highest catching percentage (71.8%) of tight ends last year. ProFootballTalk gave him below-average grades in every category except pass blocking for a decidedly unimpressive overall grade of -4.0 — ranking him 47th out of 62 tight ends. Compare that to the grades of studs like Rob Gronkowski (+21.2), Dwayne Allen (+19.1) and Jason Witten (+19.0), and it’s almost unfathomable that Finley could be worth almost as much as a starting wide receiver.

The irony, of course, is that Thompson probably felt cornered into this decision by the departures of Jennings and blocking tight end Tom Crabtree. Still, there is no reason to assume that Finley’s mediocre level of production could not be provided by some combination of wide receiver and tight end personnel. Moreover, it sends the wrong message when a drama queen like Finley, who is never willing to take responsibility for his mistakes but insists on blaming his quarterback for everything that goes wrong, manages to make the final roster year after year on the basis of his potential rather than his production.

Look for Finley to be kept on an extremely short leash this year as Thompson casts about for his successor, hopefully in the later rounds of the 2013 NFL Draft.

1006 comments
zombieslayer
zombieslayer

The Finley signing was a mistake, especially considering the Packers need a DEFENSE.


The Packers had the worst defensive showing EVER in regards to QB rushing.  Not just in a Playoff game, but EVER.  Should have cut Finley and used that money on a defensive player from somewhere else.

Prit
Prit

Anyone ever played Empire Defense 2 on the droid?

Prit
Prit

There's always room for jello. 

Prit
Prit

Our government are bat crazy whack o's with too much power in their hands....  

Prit
Prit

The proton pack is not a toy. 

MIBearFan
MIBearFan

Rourke, if you can get a make and model off your washer, I can look it up while I'm at work.

gatrbuc17
gatrbuc17

Man the Rays got Shafted last night

MIBearFan
MIBearFan

Time to work for a bit. 

Quit playing with yourselves in public.

MIBearFan
MIBearFan

16 days until the draft. Maybe someone could do an article on quilting.

 ЯD
ЯD

That was truly an incredible championship last night. Exciting from first moment to last. One of the best games I have seen in any sport in a very long time. Frankly, it whipped any Super Bowl in recent memory all hollow, even the one the Packers were in, which was honestly pretty sloppy. Sure, Cinderella stories are great once in a while, but if you want your tournament to have credibility, you want your best two teams in the championship more often than not, and I think we can all agree that is what happened here. The NFL could stand to learn a lot from the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. Moving away from the four-team divisional alignment would be a great first step. 

gatrbuc17
gatrbuc17

@The Dick Tracy If they would just legalize recreational Marijuana the Country would be a better place

Prit
Prit

@andylet445 He's getting a picture of a cock his way, when he says yes...

Prit
Prit

@gatrbuc17 Bravos didn't though! But we are still recovering from our shafting last year.

 ЯD
ЯD

@gatrbuc17 The pun eludes me. Does someone named Shaft play for their opponent?

 ЯD
ЯD

Congratulations to Paul Childers for winning our March Madness Bracket Contest with an impressive score of 120 points. I tied for second with rolonhoops at 112 points using my unimaginative bracket of picking the higher seed in every game.

Prit
Prit

@EvilDonkey @The Dick Tracy I'm just getting into metal over last 5ish years, at their peak, I really didn't even listen to em, what the fuck was I thinking? 

Prit
Prit

@gatrbuc17 @The Dick Tracy It's a start. Getting rid of every house member, senator, and career politician, would be a better start though. 

 ЯD
ЯD

@The Miracle Man That was the biggest fault with the game, I think. The officiating was pretty one-sided against Louisville, particularly in the first half. I didn't mind the frenetic pace. I thought that overall, the shooting by both teams was fantastic.

MIBearFan
MIBearFan

@The Miracle Man @Nonstopdrivel  

The refs were sloppy and inconsistent, but I don't think they ruined anything. It was an exciting game, Michigan just wasn't making their shots in the second half.

AndrewLeT
AndrewLeT

@Nonstopdrivel @The Miracle Man the past super bowl is hard to gauge, it was a blowout and then a huge lull with the power outage which made it a new game.  it was like watching two completely one sided games. 

 ЯD
ЯD

@The Miracle Man Still, compared to the Super Bowl between the 49ers and Ravens, it was a great game.

 ЯD
ЯD

@First job: Beat the Packers Sorry for not calling you last night. By the time the game was over, I figured it was a little late for politeness. I can call this evening if that works for you.