Jsonline.com reported that the Packers will sign S Marquand Manuel as soon as free agency begins. It seems to be a trend that GM Ted Thompson has a poor track record for signing free agents. None of the free agents signed by Thompson last offseason made any significant contribution to the Packers. Signing Manuel doesn't guarantee the streak of signing useless free agents is soon to end.
Manuel is a career backup who was claimed off waivers by Seattle from Cincinnati before the start of the 2004 season. It seems to be assumed that Manuel played well after Seattle lost S Ken Hamlin for the season and is now deserving of a starting position, however, it is more likely that Manuel is S Mark Roman v.2.0. Seattle's pass defense was actually worse in 2005 than the Packers. Jsonline.com quoted a NFC scout who said "one of his strengths would be being physical when attacking the line of scrimmage" while "his weakness would be ball skills." If new defensive coordinator Bob Sanders uses the same defense as Jim Bates did last season, the safeties in the defense are interchangable and have to be able to play the run and the pass. Rookie S Nick Collins made some mistakes in 2005, but he also showed the ability to play both the run and the pass. Manuel doesn't sound like he is the same caliber of player. The only person quoted by jsonline.com who consistently spoke well of Manuel was his agent.
Manuel appears to be the classic guy who played great in the playoffs after nothing much during the regular season. He had no interceptions and 2 pass defenses during the regular season and 1 interception and 5 pass defenses during his 3 playoff games. Compare him to Roman and it looks like Roman actually played better in 2005. Overall, the Packers are paying a $2 million signing bonus for a player who isn't as good as the player they already have. Another crap move by Thompson.
Jsonline.com said "the Packers have identified Manuel as the player they want as their other starting safety in ’06 from a free-agent list that includes Chris Hope, Tank Williams, Marlon McCree, Tebucky Jones, Lawyer Milloy and Marcus Coleman." That is not a list of players to get excited about. Although Roman has not played great during his time with the Packers, the only player who is truly an upgrade over Roman is S Chris Hope. The only problem with Hope is that he calls the plays on defense for Pittsburgh and it would be a major surprise if Pittsburgh lets him leave in free agency. The Packers should be trying to develop a safety to play alongside Collins, but S Marviel Underwood was a non-factor during 2005 after Thompson spent a 4th round pick on him last April. Apparently Underwood is another mistake made by Thompson.
On ESPN last night, Mel Kiper predicted that the Packers would draft DE Mario Williams. It would explain why the Packers are dragging out negotiations with DE Aaron Kampman if they want to draft Williams. With Williams on the team, it would seem that Kampman would be a backup, but Kampman probably wants to be paid like a starter. If the Packers fail to resign Kampman, it would seem more likely that Kiper is correct and Williams will be a Packer next season.