Much to my disappointment, Chad Clifton gets his $11 million signing bonus from the Packers. That is the market rate for left tackles of Clifton's ability, but it begs the question; why is a quality left tackle so much more valuable than a quality left guard or any other position on the offensive line? Is it that much more important to have a left tackle who can handle power and speed rushers on the quarterback's blind side than a good guard or center who is adept at pulling on runs and picking up blitzes on passes? When Mike Wahle went into free agency two offseasons ago, you could hear the crickets chirping because there was so little interest in him. They are both comparable players for their positions, so I don't agree that Clifton is worth so much more than Wahle. At this price, Clifton is more valuable than the rest of the line.
The NFL has seemed to go bonus crazy this offseason, so its good to see the Packers only gave an $11 million bonus to Clifton this offseason instead of the $10 million he would have gotten, hypothetically, if he was a healthy free agent left tackle last offseason. $18 million for Champ Bailey? In 2003, Washington had the 14th ranked pass defense, so one player does not improve an entire pass defense. $17 million for Clinton Portis? If Portis is worth a $17 million bonus, how much is Ahman Green's agent asking for in an extension? Then there is the titanic $34.5 million for Peyton Manning. Is Manning worth 75% more than Donovan McNabb? Is he worth over 200% more than Brett Favre? Reading on espn.com it seemed to me like Indianapolis completely messed this up by not taking care of Manning last offseason. If Manning hadn't been signed this week for the insane bonus of $34.5 floated by Manning's agent, Indianapolis would have been forced to cut 8 players, or 15% of their roster, that they didn't want to cut. Manning shouldn't be blamed for asking for whatever contract he wants, but Indianapolis shouldn't have left themselves in this position. Then today, Philadelphia gives Jevon Kearse $16 million as a reward for not being healthy since his rookie season. All these signings make Clifton's signing appear positively frugal.
In addition, the Packers cut Gilbert Brown, who they mistakenly gave a 6 year deal last offseason. The signing bonus was minimal, so it isn't a huge cap hit, but the better policy with Brown was to keep him on a year to year basis as had been done the previous couple of seasons. Brown gave the team everything he had last season, playing the entire season with a torn muscle, but he eventually lost his starting job to Grady Jackson. Prior to Jackson, the Packers run defense was better with Brown then without, but his release this week probably marks the final appearance for Brown on the roster. I'll remember Brown for his spectacular 1996 season with the Packers, although it doesn't show up on the stat line, Brown was a terror in the NFL that season.