Monday, March 13, 2006

The Packers probably did good by resigning DE Aaron Kampman. Keeping Kampman is a good deal by itself because Kampman was the team's best defensive lineman in 2005. It could be bad if the Packers decide to draft DE Mario Williams in the 1st round, the player that they were most recently rumored to be interested in. Does that mean DE KGB becomes a linebacker? Will GM Ted Thompson encourage more 3 defensive end sets? If the Packers have decided on someone else with their 1st round pick, like LB A.J. Hawk, then resigning Kampman makes sense. Unfortunately the terms of the contract weren't announced. It would probably seem like too much money for Kampman, but in a world where Minnesota would guarantee $16 million for an offensive guard, it probably is reasonable.

Minnesota moved quickly to sign K Ryan Longwell. This keeps the annual trend intact for Minnesota as they sign a kicker from a division rival for the second consecutive season. Apparently K Jason Hanson will be kicking in Minnesota next season. Longwell had been outstanding from 1997 through 2004 on scoring attempts, but he fell apart in 2005 and cost the Packers 1 or 2 games with missed field goals and a big missed extra point against Tampa Bay. If Longwell continues to kick as he did in 2005, then he will not be missed. A potential benefit is that Longwell had been killing the Packers with poor kickoffs for several seasons. Hopefully the next kicker for the Packers can help them win the field position battle better than Longwell.

Some people love Green Bay, but WR Javon Walker doesn't believe it is "the best place for me." As much as the Packers don't need a return of the 2004 CB Mike McKenzie saga, the Packers should not give Walker a new contract. Walker will not be a great receiver in 2006 because he will still be recovering from his knee injury. By 2007, Walker should be as good or better than he was before the injury. The Packers should see how Walker plays in 2006, then try and extend his contract next offseason if he looks fully recovered. The Packers have all the leverage in this situation and if Walker wants to screw around with his career and retire, then that his choice. The Packers can't afford to trade him now when his value is at its lowest.

S Marquand Manuel signed his contract with the Packers as expected. It isn't much money, but as I discussed last week, S Mark Roman actually outplayed Manuel in 2005. The big difference was that Manuel had two big playoff games plus he was claimed off of waivers by Seattle when Thompson was still working for the Seahawks. The Packers would be better if they could find a safety who can outplay Roman, but Manuel is a career backup who did nothing during the 2005 regular season and he won't outplay him.

Why Minnesota would want QB Craig Nall or FB William Henderson is a bit of a mystery. Nall might be a competant NFL starting quarterback, but it is more likely he is the next QB A.J. Feeley. Henderson was in the Pro Bowl in 2004, but he took a step back in 2005. While Henderson still played well in 2005, he didn't play nearly as much as he used to and FB Vonta Leach as much if not more than Henderson. Henderson has been a great Packer for over 10 seasons, but he may have played his last quality NFL season.

Thompson appears to be continuing his poor track record with other team's free agents by showing interest in LB Ben Taylor when no one else is. Taylor had a solid 2005 season but if a player has no visits scheduled with any other team at this point, then how good is he? He might be just as good as Manuel; a career backup who is better suited for special teams.

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