Friday, April 28, 2006

Two bits of good news in this article. It appears unlikely that the Packers will trade WR Javon Walker. The bottom line is that the Packers wouldn't receive equal value in return, which Tom Silverstein believes the Packers want a 1st round pick. The Packers control Walker for two more seasons. They should see if Walker can return to 2004 form and help QB Brett Favre in what is likely his final season, and then trade Walker this time next season if there are still problems when his trade value should be high. It also revealed why DT Kenderick Allen was released by the NY Giants; Tom Coughlin didn't like his commitment. This could be a problem, but Coughlin is one of the strictest coaches in the NFL, so Allen didn't have to do much to get in Coughlin's doghouse. It sounds like Coughlin's lack of patience is the Packers gain.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Seriously? Denver and Miami are interested in WR Javon Walker and Ted Thompson is considering it. How many Pro Bowl players has Thompson ran out of Green Bay in the past two seasons? Thompson ran out Sharper, Rivera, and Wahle (alternate) in 2005, but he hadn't been able to run any out in 2006 (despite his efforts to encourage Favre's retirement). He could have let RB Ahman Green leave, but he's resigned so it is too late for that. So now it is on the disgruntled Walker. There is no way the Packers receive equal compensation for Walker because of his trade demands and his injured knee. Favre had one of his worst seasons in 2005 because the offensive line struggled and Favre didn't have enough quality receivers. Trading Walker is asking for a repeat of 2005.
Finally the Packers can report that QB Brett Favre is returning next season. The timing is a little odd as Bob Wolfley suggests, I expected that Favre would announce his return after the NFL draft, but it seemed likely that Favre would return after the stories about how bored Favre was on his farm in Mississippi. What are the Packers going to do about the offensive line?
The Packers did make a nice move the same day they overpaid for CB Charles Woodson and signed DT Kenderick Allen. The Packers press release has all the good reasons why the Packers signed the big tackle, but none of the reasons why NY released a good young defensive tackle. The best guess why he was released was he was overweight, but NY Giants fans don't know why he was released either. Allen will probably backup DT Ryan Pickett, but it is likely they play together on obvious running downs. Allen is already the best backup nose tackle the Packers have had on the roster in many seasons. This quiet signing the same day as Woodson might be a better one.
Nobody in football, except Ted Thompson, thinks CB Charles Woodson can play cornerback anymore. Kansas City's head coach Herm Edwards was quoted earlier this offseason saying that he believes Woodson can only "if his mind is right." No team in the NFL pursued Woodson with the intention of playing him at cornerback.

There is a big $52 million figure attached to this contract, but it is likely that this is a big one year, $10.5 million contract with no guarantees after this season. Woodson's agent wouldn't discuss how much was guaranteed, which would seem to confirm that. The Packers have a lot of 2006 cap room to offer Woodson, and Woodson has no other suitors except Tampa Bay which wants him to play safety. Did the Packers have to pay him $10.5 million in any circumstance? Was any team in the NFL willing to pay anywhere near what Woodson played for ($10 million) in Oakland in 2005?

Where does Woodson play with the Packers? He is probably guaranteed a starting cornerback position. Signing another cornerback is not a bad idea. With Woodson starting, CB Ahmad Carroll is the 3rd cornerback, but he will be on the field in the nickel package at least 50% of the time. If Woodson can't play cornerback and is forced to play safety, then he would have to take the place of Thompson's prized free agent signing S Marquand Manuel. Maybe S Nick Collins would move to cornerback? Would any reporter ask Thompson to explain why the Packers might have two high priced mediocre safeties (Woodson and Manuel) one season after Thompson forced Pro Bowl S Darren Sharper to Minnesota over a relatively small paycut?

Woodson can definitely help with kick or punt returns, assuming he is healthy to play 16 games next season. He is a high priced talent (or maybe just high priced) who is better suited to play a different position because of frequent injuries over the past four seasons. He probably chose Green Bay because it was his only choice willing to pay him what he felt he deserved and play him at cornerback. He could help the team out next season, but there is a lot of risk that this will be a bust.

Monday, April 24, 2006

GM Ted Thompson won't rule out drafting a quarterback. GMs are required to mislead as much as possible before the draft. Maybe if QB Aaron Rodgers was drafted by Mike Sherman before Thompson was hired, it would be possible that Thompson would consider drafting a quarterback. But it is impossible that Thompson would throw his own choice under the wheels without even giving him a chance to start. The only concern is that Thompson has had a number of bad ideas as GM and drafting another 1st round quarterback to create competition might be another one of them.

Football Outsiders had an article posted in March and the author concluded that QBs Matt Leinert, Vince Young, and Jay Cutler should all have some success in the NFL. The reason all three would have success is that "the two most predictive college statistics are completion percentage and games started." Rodgers didn't have a huge number of starts at California (22), but that is deceiving because he only played 2 seasons at Cal and he started every game except his first game in a Bears uniform. His completion percentage in his 2 seasons was 61.6 and 66.1. It would appear that Rodgers has just as much chance to succeed as Leinert, Young, or Cutler. The biggest concerns with Rodgers is that he doesn't have the physical makeup scouts prefer for a quarterback and that he is very comparable to a former Packers bust QB Rich Campbell (1st round selection, high completion percentage, played at California). The Rich Campbell similarities alone would have made me pass on drafting him, but Thompson was playing linebacker for Houston back then and probably not paying attention to the draft decisions of Bart Starr.

The worst part of selecting a quarterback is that it appears that QB Brett Favre is waiting until after the draft to see if the Packers make any improvement to the offense, and selecting another quarterback in the 1st round would not be what Favre had in mind.

It is no surprise that LB Lavar Arrington would choose the NY Giants over the Packers. With so much unknown about the Packers at this point (Will Favre return? Will Thompson ever make the right decisions in free agency? Will the team have to completely rebuild after 2006?), it made little sense to sign Arrington. It is amazing what a difference a season makes; if Arrington was available this time last season, then signing him would have been a great move to upgrade from LB Hannibal Navies.

Pat Kirwan is one of the best football writers on the web and he has updated his mock draft. I don't think anybody gets these mock drafts right, but Kirwan has a lot of friends in the NFL that he talks to so his evaluations of players is always interesting. He thinks the Packers will draft two linebackers; LB A.J. Hawk and LB Roger McIntosh. Hawk has been talked about as a top 10 pick all offseason and nothing from his workouts has moved him down. McIntosh has all the physical abilities of a top linebacker, but he makes mistakes in the open field and can overpursue. If the Packers do address their problems at linebacker early, then the most interesting time for the Packers will be the mid-rounds (3 through 5) when the Packers will have to address the offensive line. If the Packers are serious about a shift to a zone blocking scheme with lighter and more agile offensive lineman, then the mid-rounds are when those players should be drafted. Most of the offensive lineman projected in the first 2 rounds are all big 300 lb. tackles, which shouldn't be the type of player the Packers are interested in. Any offensive lineman who is drafted in rounds 3-5 and can play guard will be immediately considered a candidate to start in 2006.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Awful. It is no one's fault but the Packers are going to release 2005 2nd round pick WR Terrence Murphy. Not only is this a lost 2nd round pick, but the Packers have depth issues at wide receiver so long as WR Javon Walker is demanding a trade. This will have to be another position that the Packers must address at some point in the draft.

Watching more of the ESPN draft special, Mel Kiper said that DE Mario Williams will be drafted by someone before the Packers pick 5th. It would seem unlikely that the Packers would trade up for any player this season. At this point, it would seem likely that QB Matt Leinert will fall to the Packers, and then the Packers might trade down to let another team draft Leinert. Of course, no one knows what will happen, maybe not even GM Ted Thompson, until the Packers are on the clock on April 29th. There is no clear indication who New Orleans, Tennessee, or the NY Jets will draft before the Packers. It wouldn't be surprising to see any of those teams trade down either. With so many good players available at the 5th pick, the Packers will probably have no problem selecting a player when their time comes, but they will probably spend the full 15 minutes available to them fielding trade proposals depending on who falls to the 5th pick.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Watching ESPN's NFL Draft special this week, Chris Mortenson reported that the Packers made an offer to CB Charles Woodson but Woodson rejected it because it was for too little money. Further, Mortenson said that only two teams have shown any interest in Woodson; the Packers and Tampa Bay who want Woodson to play safety.

Dear Ted Thompson, When your team is the only team in the NFL that seriously believes that Woodson can still play cornerback, please take the suggestion to heart. Love, Packer fans. Do any Packer fans believe Woodson would be willing to play for the Packers other than for a big paycheck?

On ESPN's NFL Draft special, a lot of time was spent discussing DE Mario Williams, who is projected on most mock drafts to be the Packers selection. It can't be a bad idea to select a player who is often compared to DE Julius Peppers. If Williams is Julius Peppers 2.0 and KGB can play strong side linebacker, that would be a major upgrade on defense. The only problem with it is that the Packers have to address their problems at linebacker and offensive line. There is no doubt that Williams has great talent, but there have been a number of "great" defensive ends in recent years like Andre Wadsworth and Jamal Reynolds who were complete busts. If the Packers draft Williams, they have to do something to improve the offensive line and the linebacker positions on the 1st day of the draft too.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Of all the coverage regarding QB Brett Favre, the Onion might have the most accurate story. Although I'm not optimistic that G Marco Rivera and C Mike Flanagan have promising futures in the NFL at this stage in their careers (letting G Mike Wahle was a huge mistake unless the salary cap (Wahle had a monster 2005 cap number that was designed to make him a free agent) truly prevented them from resigning him), Favre cannot be happy that the Packers have let the offense slip so much in the last two seasons. John Madden thinks Favre wants to be traded, but I think it is more likely he wants to see what the Packers do in the draft. If Ted Thompson runs the draft as badly as he has run this offseason so far, then Favre will probably want to be traded. The bad news for Favre is that his cap number might prevent any trade.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Aargh!!! The Packers have a real need at linebacker, but Arrington only had 47 tackles, no interceptions, and no sacks last season. He fought with his coaches, he filed a grievance against his team regarding his contract, and he didn't even start last season for Washington. He may still be a great player, but after last season he looks like a backup linebacker who wants to be the highest paid linebacker in the NFL. Bonus: Arrington and CB Charles Woodson both use the Postons as their agents, so the Packers can overpay for two players at once!

On the flip side, the Packers have the money to spend and there are few suitors for either Woodson or Arrington. If both players are willing to earn a starting position in camp, willing to accept a possible backup position, and willing to play on a one year contract, then signing both or either player would help the Packers in 2006. It would seem unlikely that either player would accept those terms.

It is sickening to think that the Packers saved their money and salary cap room by not resigning Gs Marco Rivera and Mike Wahle in 2005 only to take a chance on signing Woodson and/or Arrington in 2006. What a wasted opportunity.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

It looks like QB Brett Favre isn't optimistic about next season. Firing a previously successful coach and hiring an underachieving offensive coordinator to replace him isn't too promising. The Packers had as much salary cap room as Minnesota this offseason, but while Minnesota signed a top free agent running back (RB Chester Taylor) and a top free agent offensive lineman (G Steve Hutchinson), the Packers have let their second leading receiver (WR Antonio Chatman) and Favre's long time center (C Mike Flanagan) leave in free agency. The only signing so far on offense is a receiver who had 8 catches over the last 2 seasons. It looks like Favre wants to see the final makeup of the team after the NFL draft. It sounds like GM Ted Thompson will give Favre time and keep pushing the $3 million roster bonus back until Favre decides. How unpopular will Thompson be in Green Bay if Favre retires early because he thinks the team Thompson built doesn't have a chance to win?