Wednesday, February 28, 2007

After I compliment GM Ted Thompson for having someone like DE/DT Cullen Jenkins under contract next season for around $1.5 million non-guaranteed, he goes out and gives Jenkins a four year contract with around $6 million guaranteed. Thompson said "I still think his best football is ahead of him. It was a good opportunity for the club to try to get a long-term deal with a good evolving player." It isn't that Jenkins is evolving, but he finally got more consistent playing time over the last few weeks when it was obvious DE KGB wasn't playing that great. Jenkins has always shown good inside pass rush moves which was how he made the roster in the first place back in 2004 as an undrafted free agent. The mystery is why it took him so long to receive consistent playing time. As of today, this was too much money to give to a restricted free agent that has only started a handful of games. After the free agent signings begin on March 2nd, this contract might look like a bargain. With DT Vonnie Holliday getting a $7 million guaranteed contract, DT Cory Redding getting the franchise tag, and few, if any, quality pass rushing defensive tackles available in this year's draft, teams might start throwing much bigger money at any defensive tackle with a pulse and a prayer of providing an inside pass rush. Thompson was probably concerned that Jenkins would receive an even bigger contract from another team once free agency began, although signing Jenkins would probably cost the other team a lot of money plus their 1st round draft pick. Thompson seemingly overpaid for DE Aaron Kampman this time last season and that was a great move. Hopefully his luck continues and Jenkins is just as good, or even better, next season.

Monday, February 26, 2007

So who at the combine might be catching the Packers attention?

I said the Packers need a defensive lineman to provide an inside pass rush for most of last season, but then DTs Corey Williams and Cullen Jenkins came on to provide it during the last few games. It still might be the position to draft because DE KGB has declined the past two seasons and Jenkins might be a free agent after next season. Michgan's DT Alan Branch and Clemson's DE Gaines Adams should be long gone by the Packers pick. Maybe someone like Louisville's Amobi Okoye, who is one of the biggest stories at the combine because the guy is only 19 years old and set to become the youngest player ever drafted. Okoye isn't a pass rusher, more of a nose tackle like NT Ryan Pickett, and wouldn't fit an obvious need in 2007, but with someone so young he could be providing solid performance and depth at the defensive tackle position for the next ten seasons.

The Packers need to add a good receiving tight end. Here are the 40 times for tight ends. Arizona State's Zach Miller has been a stud for years but Miami's Greg Olson blew them all away with a 4.47. Unfortunately he didn't show too much production at Miami. Both players would be a reach at 16.

The Packers need depth at wide receiver too. Some mock drafts have the Packers selecting USC's WR Dwayne Jarrett at 16. Unfortunately for Jarrett he didn't run at the combine officially and now his speed is coming into question. Of course the Packers would love Georgia Tech's Calvin Johnson, but he will never fall to 16 and might be the first player selected. The receiver who did the most at the combine was Tennessee's Robert Meachem. He blazed a 4.39 in the 40, but he did not have a perfect college career, with a history of drops too, and might not be worthy of the 16th pick. Just like running back, this is another position where the Packers might wait until the 2nd or 3rd round to select someone like USC's Steve Smith or Washington State's Jason Hill.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Let the RB Marshawn Lynch talk begin! With RB Ahman Green's free agency and Lynch projected as a mid-first round draft pick, it seems like a natural prediction. GM Ted Thompson is still talking about bringing Green back (see above linked article at the bottom) but who knows. With a lot of free cap room around the league, letting Green hit the open market seems like a way to lose him. Green has been in decline since his great 2003 season and should not be brought back at any cost. Maybe this is the time to let him go.

But the Packers would be reaching by drafting Lynch at 16. Lynch should be good, but he might be the next RB J.J. Arrington too. If RB Adrian Peterson fell to 16 then the Packers should dance like New Orleans danced once it was reported that Houston signed DE Mario Williams. Assuming Peterson doesn't fall down to 16 (which he shouldn't) and Thompson doesn't trade up (which seems just as unlikely) the next prospect to discuss is Lynch. Unfortunately for Lynch there are a number of other college running backs who ran as fast or faster than him. Florida State's Lorenzo Booker, Arizona's Chris Henry, Auburn's Kenny Irons, and Ohio State's Antonio Pittman. All of these players might not have Lynch's size or eye-catching 6.21 yards/carry during his final two college seasons, but some of them will last into the 2nd and maybe the 3rd round. Plus if Green does return, then there is good depth for 2007 with RBs Vernand Morency and Noah Herron and another running back doesn't seem like a good fit.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Detroit's GM Matt Millen is the worst GM in the NFL today and I'm so glad the Packers play his team twice every season. Millen was good for another laugh when he designated DT Cory Redding with the franchise tag. Redding had a nice 2006 season after an unremarkable first three seasons in the NFL. Detroit can use the franchise tag on Redding, they don't have another free agent this season worthy of it, and it won't kill their salary cap because they are under it by $23.8 million. Plus if rumors of a purge of players by Rod Marinelli is true, then they might even have more room under the cap to work with.

However, the laugh is because Millen is paying $6.8 million for a defensive tackle that is basically the same player as DT Cullen Jenkins. Both are lighter defensive tackles/ends that are not run stoppers, but provide a good inside pass rush. The Packers will pay Jenkins a lot less in 2006, although that is due in large part because Jenkins has one less year in service time. But if it was announced that the Packers just slapped the franchise tag on Jenkins, most casual fans would probably wonder who he is. Plus putting the tag always upsets the player tagged. Better GMs would have found a way to pay a reasonable price for an unremarkable, but valuable, player and wouldn't have upset the player in the process too.

Friday, February 23, 2007

With all the franchise tags being placed now and the restricted free agent tenders due by March 1, the free agent season is almost upon us. The Packers have a few free agents and a couple important ones. With $28 million in cap room to work with there is enough room to resign everyone and still pursue others, if desired. Resigning DT Cullen Jenkins is important, but putting a 1st or 2nd round tender would probably persuade teams to look elsewhere. It would be a reasonable contract, between $1.3 and $1.85 million, and other teams could probably draft a player similar to him in the 1st or 2nd round anyway and hopefully lose interest. It would be surprising if any of the exclusive rights free agents weren't resigned. Resigning TE Donald Lee was a nice minimum wage signing, although Lee vanished in 2006 after a promising 2005 season.

Of the remaining unrestricted free agents, the only two that should be resigned, but not at any price, are RB Ahman Green and TE David Martin.

Green had a strong 2006 season, but his 4.0 yards/carry is a half-yard under his 2004 and career averages. Both RBs Noah Herron and Vernand Morency had a better average yards/carry than Green in 2006. Also, Green is only a season removed from major knee surgery and is about to turn 30. ESPN's Mel Kiper had his mock draft predictions scrolling at the bottom of ESPN and has the Packers selecting RB Marshawn Lynch, which is a possibility. With Green's strong return in 2006 and the weaker group of free agent running backs this offseason compared to last season's bonanza with RBs Edgerrin James and Shawn Alexander leading the way, it wouldn't be surprising to see some team overpay for Green. Green crossed the 400 carry mark during his outstanding 2003 season (including playoffs) and has never been as good since. Last season he resigned for a modest one year deal, but that won't happen this year. The Packers should let another team pay a premium price for his last few seasons.

If only Martin could stay healthy, then resigning him would be a priority. His 2006 stats look modest, but the offense played its best during the middle of the season when Martin was healthy and starting. They won 3 of 4 games in late October and early November by scoring 34 points at Miami and 31 against Arizona, with a TD pass to Martin in both games. They only scored 10 points at Buffalo, but turnovers ruined an otherwise great offensive day. Then Martin played his last healthy game in the win at Minnesota (against a great Minnesota defense) with 23 points scored. In the last seven games, the offense scored over 20 points (24 points at Seattle, but one TD scored by LB Abdul Hodge) in only two of them. They need Martin or another quality receiving TE like him. His past injury problems should keep contract offers modest so resigning him could be reasonable. Any free agent TE to replace him would have risks (such as Seattle's inconsistent TE Jerramy Stevens), so they should resign Martin but draft a TE to replace him in 2008 if he remains injury prone.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The last several months have been pretty bad down in Miami. First QB Daunte Culpepper comes back too early from his injury and might never be the same player he was back in 2004. Then the future of the team seems to be in the hands of QB Joey Harrington. Then Nick Saban stabs them in the back and takes the head coaching job in Alabama.

Now they've started off the free agency season with a laugh by giving former Packer DT Vonnie Holliday a fat $7 million signing bonus. Looking at his career stats, he has played well for them the last two seasons. But stats are a bit misleading for Holliday. He pads them with big games and then vanishes for the rest of the season.

Holliday's big rookie season in 1998 with 8 sacks in 12 games came because he was playing opposite DE Reggie White when White was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year and then he took a step back in 1999 without White in the lineup anymore. He had 6 sacks in 10 games during his final season with the Packers in 2002, but 3 or 4 of those sacks came in a single game. After he signed a big free agent contract with Kansas City his tackle total collapsed although he had a respectable looking 5.5 sacks until you learn that he had 3 sacks in the first half of the first game of the season. His 2004 stats were dismal until Kansas City released him mid-season. The Packers played Miami last season and I only remember noticing him a couple of times. It seemed like he was only a part time starter. Just an awful signing.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

QB Brett Favre will have surgery in the next few weeks. How specific. The only thing interesting about this story is that Favre said he would have the surgery right after the season but it has been rescheduled or delayed until at least March. It shouldn't be a problem, but hopefully Favre doesn't have to wait too much longer.

ESPN says the Packers defense is all beefed up because they signed some future candidates for the practice squad. The only interesting name is Marcus Randall because he is now a linebacker but used to play QB at LSU.

Unfortunately the Packers signed WR Koren Robinson last season because now his updated legal status is reported on Packer news sites. However, if Robinson is sober and in shape then he could help in 2007. The good news for Robinson is that he will only serve 90 days and he should be available by training camp. GM Ted Thompson signed him last season when he knew Robinson had these legal troubles coming so there should be no reason he doesn't keep him now.
There will be some draft news and mock draft chart adjusting in the coming week because the NFL Combine begins on Thursday. Last season DE Mario Williams and TE Vernon Davis shot into the top 10 after the combine. The big problem with the combine is that although some hidden gems can be found, good players like Williams and Davis suddenly become overrated and some players like WR Marques Colston unnecessarily fall. Colston was a small college player who had a serious case of the drops during the combine and promptly fell into the 7th round. Even after only one season Colston is already one of the greatest 7th round bargains ever. Hanging around players for a day or two in perfect dome conditions is only part of the answer. NFL Network has complete coverage if anyone can manage to sit through all the repetitive non-responsive interviews from NFL GMs.
Chicago's defensive coordinator Ron Rivera interviews for the head coaching job in San Diego then goes back to Chicago to learn his contract will not be renewed and he ends up in San Diego as their linebackers coach. Wow. What a major turn of events. It is mostly good news in San Diego when after losing their coordinators and then firing their head coach, they end up with an experienced and well respected coaching staff. The bad news in San Diego is that Norv Turner has never impressed as a head coach and Minnesota's defense improved from 19th overall under Ted Cottrell in 2005 to 4th overall in 2006 without him.

What does Rivera's departure mean for Chicago? Unfortunately for the Packers it doesn't mean too much in 2007 because it is Lovie Smith defense it is unlikely to change. Here is Windy City Gridiron's take on the move. Why did they let Rivera leave? If Rivera gets a big fat new contract as defensive coordinator, then it is possible that Chicago is on the hook for his contract when/if they let Lovie Smith. If Smith is staying long term, then this isn't a problem. Is Smith not staying because he allegedly can't get a new contract extension? Did Smith have a problem with Rivera? Clash of ego and money are not something new in Chicago. George Halas's son Michael McCaskey ran the football and business operations from 1985 until 1999 when his mother "kicked him upstairs". From 1985 until Jerry Angelo was named GM in 2001 (although Mark Hatley was defacto GM during the late 1990s) the McCaskey family didn't feel they needed anyone else. The McCaskey family has been on the right track since 1999 when they hired CEO Ted Phillips who got the new stadium built and hired Mark Hatley. Hatley made some famous bust moves like drafting QB Cade McNown, but he also built the 2001 13-3 Chicago team and drafted LB Brian Urlacher. It has taken Chicago eight years to get where they are but only one offseason of bad front office moves to tear it all down. Is Chicago uninterested in paying any of their front office staff or coaches top dollar? Smith's departure would be a huge loss for Chicago and maybe Rivera's departure is a sign that it could happen.

Friday, February 16, 2007

There will be a million pointless mock drafts posted online between now and mid-April. All of them will be pointless and a waste of time. I know I shouldn't pay any attention to them, but just like staring at car accidents and reading tabloids at the supermarket, I just can't help myself. I ripped a Yahoo! mock draft for being ridiculous, but ProFootballTalk's Mock Draft 1.0 is much more realistic. ProFootballTalk says the Packers will take N.C. State's DT DeMarcus Tyler. That is possible and a good need area to fill despite the progress shown by DTs Cullen Jenkins and Corey Williams late in the season, but it is unlikely GM Ted Thompson would let California's RB Marshawn Lynch slip past them. Even if the Packers resign RB Ahman Green and keep RB Vernand Morency, Green is almost past 30 and Morency had some problems with fumbles and staying healthy. Lynch might not be needed for 2007, but he could be the heart of the offense by 2008.

One thing that surprised me in both mock drafts was the high rankings given to Michigan's DT Alan Branch and Arkansas' DE Jamaal Anderson. I watched most of the games played by the Wisconsin Badgers last season. They were a great overall team and they had a great offensive line. Not all of their linemen are going to play in the NFL, but they all have NFL size and are well coached. The Wisconsin offensive line was outplayed only twice last season; at Michigan and in the Capital One Bowl against Arkansas. Wisconsin managed just enough offense to win their bowl game, but it wasn't created by the offensive line. Anderson and his teammates dominated the Badgers O-line. LT Joe Thomas played well, but he was the exception. The only reservation with Anderson, and maybe with Branch too, is that they appear to be great players but they are definitely playing alongside some good-to-great players too. Are they really that good or are their teammates helping them look that good?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

ProFootballTalk was speculating (no permalink for the February 11th post) that the Packers will make a serious push to sign unrestricted free agent LB Adalius Thomas. Thomas is a great player. Michael David Smith at Football Outsiders wrote this about Thomas: "Thomas is like a chameleon. Lines him up on the line of scrimmage and he attacks the quarterback like a defensive end. Line him up as much 10 yards off the line and he covers wide receivers like a safety. He’s very tough against the run but quick enough to keep up if he’s called on to defend downfield passes. He’s also the gunner on the Ravens’ punt team. Sometimes it just seems unfair for a 270-pounder to move like Thomas does." Adding Thomas alongside LBs Nick Barnett and A.J. Hawk might give the Packers the best starting group of linebackers in the NFL, but at 270 lbs., ProFootballTalk heard that the Packers would play Thomas at defensive end. It is always good news to hear the Packers want to pursue a great player, but there are a couple of problems. First the Packers would tie up a huge amount of cap room on defensive ends. DE KGB took up 5% of last season's cap and the team would take an almost $5 million cap hit if he is released. Then if Thomas plays at linebacker, he would block the improving LB Brady Poppinga and probably turn promising LB Abdul Hodge into a permanent second stringer. What is the point of drafting a linebacker in the 3rd round if he never has a chance to start? As great as Thomas is, the Packers would be better using cap room and money to resign current players like Barnett and target positions that could really use the help like safety, wide receiver, and tight end.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

In honor of Valentine's Day it is sweet to read that the NFL power couple of Aaron James Hawk and Laura Quinn (sister of QB Brady Quinn) is planning a March 17th wedding despite the fact that they are already married. Unfortunately there is nothing too juicy about being formally married right after graduation for health and education benefits, and then waiting until the NFL season is over to throw a big celebration. Hopefully a good (and safe) time will be had by all in attendance.

Shocking but true, the Packers didn't give CB Al Harris any guaranteed money to sign a contract extension. It will be a 50% raise for him over the next three years, but he will still only be making $12 million over that time. The extension would be crazy for Harris to sign if he was an unrestricted free agent, but since he is under contract for the next three seasons, he doesn't have much leverage to negotiate. Still his extension is an NFL bargain for a (should be) Pro Bowl cornerback. Just ask Minnesota, who gave CB Fred Smoot $10 million to sign in 2005 but will now kick him to the street after two mediocre seasons later.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

In 2005, CB Al Harris played outstanding for most of the season until he faded in the last few games. He held out of some minicamp activities last spring trying force the Packers to give him a new contract. At first he appeared slighted that new CB Charles Woodson was being paid so much more than then him, but it was then rumored that he was upset that DE Aaron Kampman received such a huge contract. Harris didn't look too sharp the first few games of the season, but he was outstanding afterwards. It is not a good idea to give a cornerback big money after he turns 30 years old, but Harris has been great the last two seasons. At age 32 he doesn't appear to be slowing down and he has never been a burner. He might still be a solid starting cornerback even if he loses a step. The unofficial salary cap says Harris made $2.5 million last season after he initially received a $4.375 million signing bonus back in late 2004 when he signed his current contract. Harris's current contract has been a steal for the Packers. Mediocre cornerbacks routinely receive $10+ million signing bonuses today. But it is unclear if the roster bonuses are guaranteed. If Harris is hurt and his released anytime during the next three seasons, then the guaranteed roster bonuses would be a huge salary cap hit. Usually roster bonuses are not guaranteed, but Harris would have wanted guaranteed money to sign an extension. Maybe some more news will be available about it later this week. The good news is that Harris got his new contract and won't be any distraction next season.

Monday, February 12, 2007

It usually isn't an exciting game to watch, but I am bummed that I missed watching the Pro Bowl. After not having any players in last year's game, the Packers had WR Donald Driver and DE Aaron Kampman. From the box score, it appears that both players played a bit since Driver had three catches and Kampman four tackles. I think the most annoying part of the Pro Bowl is that it feels like it is always interviewing someone on the side lines and there is nothing more annoying than side line reporters.

Friday, February 09, 2007

It is good to read that the Packers and LB Nick Barnett are on good terms regarding a contract extension. It is reasonable that both sides will wait and see what LB Lance Briggs receives this offseason in free agency. Off the top of my head, it would seem that Barnett should receive about $15 million in guaranteed money, which is what DE Aaron Kampman received last year. The market has been clearly set for linebackers in their mid-20s. It seemed like LB E.J. Henderson received too much when Minnesota gave him $10 million in guaranteed money last month, but then Jacksonville gave LB Daryl Smith $10 million too. Neither Henderson or Smith have stats as good as Barnett over the last three seasons so he should be paid more than both of them. However, Barnett still isn't as good as Briggs who is exceptional in pass coverage. Football Outsiders reported that Chicago used Briggs basically as the nickel back last season. Briggs could easily receive $20 million in guaranteed money so then the $15 million I projected sounds about right for Barnett.
Wade Phillips has failed twice before as a head coach, but Dallas feels he is the best man for the job. Phillips is a good coach and he prefers to use a 3-4 defense, the scheme already in place in Dallas, which was probably why he was chosen over someone like Chicago defensive coordinator Ron Rivera who uses a 4-3 defense and cover-2 defensive system. Unfortunately Phillips is known for coaching good regular season teams that fail in the playoffs, exhibited by 14-2 San Diego's 1st round playoff loss this season. Plus at age 59, he fails Bill Simmons's Speed Limit Coaching Corollary. Simmons says that any team that has a head coach over age 55 should be worried because the success rate for these coaches doesn't seem high. "Maybe coaching isn't a young man's game, but it's definitely a younger man's game" says Simmons.

I was thinking about the ideal coach because I was recently re-reading Rob Reischel's book Packers Essential. He discusses Vince Lombardi who was 46 in 1959 when the Packers hired him. Lombardi was a top NFL assistant with the New York Giants who believed he never would have a head coaching opportunity after getting passed over in New York. "He had prepared for that job for a long time," said former Packer Norm Masters. He was young, experienced, and knew exactly what he would do if he ever became a head coach.

While an NFL team is unlikely to find the next Lombardi, teams should be looking for someone with experience and past success, but who has never had a head coaching opportunity. Looking around the NFL at the top offenses, why doesn't Tom Moore's name ever get mentioned as a possible head coach? Maybe he is happy in Indianapolis and he does flunk the Speed Limit Coaching Corollary, but as the offensive coordinator of one of the best offenses in NFL history over the last 9 seasons, wouldn't you at least want to talk with him? How about Bob Bratkowski in Cincinnati? He has built Cincinnati's offense from the ground up and every important offensive player has been drafted since Bratkowski was hired in 2001. Cam Cameron was hired in Miami after a great season coordinating San Diego's offense, but both him and Marty Mornhinweg in Philadelphia have had previously unspectacular results as head coaches. If you ignore coaches that have failed in previous head coaching tries then you would miss some pretty good coaches like Bill Belichick and Tony Dungy. However, for every Belichick and Dungy, there are many retread coaches that never again succeed. I would look for the assistant coach with NFL experience, but first time head coach, and leave the retreads behind.
Yahoo! Sports writer John Murphy tried his hand at a mock draft and it was funny. Alan Branch and Jamaal Anderson in the top 5? It is debatable whether either player was the best defensive lineman on his own college team last season. They are both middle of the 1st round draft choices and either would be a good selection for the Packers at pick number 16. It would be wonderful if RB Adrian Peterson falls to the Packers at number 16, but there is no way Peterson should slip out of the top 5.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

This is a non-Packer related post because it is signing day for college football teams. Watching the ticker on ESPN, it did not list the Wisconsin Badgers as one of the top 20 signing classes. Of course, trying to project how high school players to college has to be just as hard, if not harder, than projecting college players to the NFL. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has a short bio on each of the players signed by the Badgers. It is a good sign is that Bret Bielema has a player at every position and is providing depth to his entire roster. That is a good draft strategy for NFL teams too. For instance, when the Packers offensive line was great between 2001 and 2004, the Packers didn't draft an offensive lineman on the first day of the draft. When Gs Marco Rivera and Mike Wahle left in 2005, they had no quality depth to replace them and signed two veteran free agents who quickly flamed out. Last year, GM Ted Thompson did well to draft Gs Daryn Colledge and Jason Spitz on the first day and improved the line, but he was lucky that both of them were able to step right in and contribute. WR Nick Toon caught my attention, since he is the son of former Pro Bowl and Badger great WR Al Toon. The only position where the Badgers didn't add much depth was at offensive lineman, but the single OT signed, Josh Oglesby, is arguably the best in the high school offensive lineman in the country.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The headline says the Packers are not going on a free agent spending spree, but it is misleading. GM Ted Thompson isn't going to throw big money at a free agent or two as quid pro quo for QB Brett Favre's return. Since Thompson's first draft choice was QB Aaron Rodgers, I wondered last season if Thompson wasn't trying to encourage Favre's retirement by blowing up the team and letting Rodgers take over. However, it is unlikely that Thompson could survive long if Favre does retire in a way that makes it seem like Thompson is pushing Favre out.

Thompson will be active in free agency if 2006 is any guide. Last season he made one good signing that worked out as well as was expected with NT Ryan Pickett. One signing that seemed bad and turned out bad with S Marquand Manuel. Finally he made one big signing that looked like a disaster, but turned out to be one of the best free agent signings by any team with CB Charles Woodson. He made a good non-signing by letting K Ryan Longwell go to Minnesota. There aren't as many holes this offseason, but there are still are some free agents that should be targeted.

There is a need for depth at wide receiver. WRs Greg Jennings and Ruvell Martin might be good next season, but for the most part neither was good enough to start last season. Although Tennessee will probably overpay to keep him, WR Drew Bennett could be the most likely target from this list of wide receivers. Not that Bennett is any good, Football Outsiders has him ranked as the 56th best WR last season, but Bennett is 6'5" and Mike McCarthy prefers tall receivers based on reports I read last offseason. Bennett's biggest problem is the awful 47% of intended passes that he caught last season. You can't blame QB Vince Young either, because Bennett caught an awful 53% in 2005. On the 2005 list, you can see WR Robert Ferguson's awful 47% catch percentage in 2005 and understand why I am not considering Ferguson has a legitimate option in 2007. Based on the Football Outsiders list from 2006, the Packers should seriously consider making an offer to restricted free agent WRs D.J. Hackett and Patrick Crayton or unrestricted free agent WRs Kevin Curtis and Keenan McCardell. McCardell is one of the few players left in the NFL that is almost as old as Favre, but McCardell still caught 71% of the passes intended for him.

Maybe the player most likely to be signed is TE Jerramy Stevens. Just like Manuel last season, he has that connection to Seattle from when Thompson was in their front office. It would seem impossible that Stevens will stay in Seattle after becoming a notorious pass dropping machine ever since the Super Bowl. Although Stevens has concerns, he is no Manuel, and he was one of the best TEs in the NFL in 2005. There is a major need to upgrade at tight end to find someone who can catch the ball. Stevens was one of the top 10 worst regular tight ends in 2006 when he managed to stay healthy, but he was still three times better than TE Bubba Franks who is parked dead last on that list. Stevens is still young, needs a change of scenery, and could return to his 2005 form. For a contract that limits the long term cap damage if he doesn't work out, he could be a good signing.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Could WR Randy Moss become a Packer? I couldn't find the Chris Mortenson report on to confirm that rumor, but it would not be a surprise me to find Oakland shopping Moss around for a 3rd round pick plus a veteran receiver. After the disaster 2006 season Moss had as a clubhouse disruption and his obvious slacking off on the field, it would seem optimistic that they could find someone willing to surrender anything higher than a 4th round (second day) pick for Moss and even then it might be conditional on Moss not being cut. It was widely felt that Seattle overpaid by trading a 1st round pick for WR Deion Branch, and the Packers only received a 2nd round pick for WR Javon Walker. Usually the team trading away the big salary takes the salary cap hit, so if the pick is conditional it might be a low risk trade for another team, as far as the salary cap goes, and the possibility of release might even get Moss's attention.

The Packers desperately need a veteran wide receiver to either push WRs Greg Jennings and Ruvell Martin or start alongside WR Donald Driver. The Packers probably have the salary cap room to make the trade. Supposedly Chris Mortenson reported that QB Brett Favre asked the team to consider it, which seems possible since Favre has to remember how good Moss can be. If Favre was a strong locker room presence, then he could probably keep Moss in check, but from everything I have read, Favre doesn't have a lot of friends on the team anymore. That probably has something to do with the fact that most of the team is closer in age to his eldest daughter than to him. A talent like Moss has to be considered, but it would be better to play it safe and see what the free agent market would offer instead.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Do players make the Pro Bowl after a good season, or do Pro Bowl players make it a good season? After having no Pro Bowl players in 2005, the Packers have two in 2006; WR Donald Driver and DE Aaron Kampman. If you look at the list of past Pro Bowl selections from the Packers, there are some players that probably made it because the Packers had a good season. TE Bubba Franks made it in 2003 because he had made it the previous two seasons and the NFC was not loaded with great tight ends. G Marco Rivera had some struggles in 2004, but still was selected to the Pro Bowl. However, both Driver and Kampman really earned their spots in 2006. Driver should have been shut down by opposing defenses by mid-season once it was obvious that QB Brett Favre didn't have any other receiving threat on the team. Meanwhile Kampman continues to improve each season. In 2004 and 2005, he was usually solid and had a big game two or three times per season. But in 2006, he had a big game every week, except for two or three times when he didn't make an impact.

Friday, February 02, 2007

QB Brett Favre's return is great news. It was understandable that Favre would not return after the 2005 season because it was his first losing season, head coach Mike Sherman was fired, and there were going to be a lot of new faces in 2006. I wondered if Favre was risking his life playing behind an offensive line likely to feature at least two rookie starters in a new zone blocking scheme. Instead Favre survived the season, the offensive line played much better than expected, and the running game came back to life. Still the offense was below average last season. Commentators like the Sports Guy through Favre was done, but Favre didn't have an above average receiver other than WR Donald Driver. Maybe RB Ahman Green was above average, but Green was used only as the checkdown receiver. WR Greg Jennings had a big start, but was hurt or ineffective for the last three quarters of the season. TE Bubba Franks was a disaster. Welcome Favre back and hope GM Ted Thompson finds a quality receiver or tight end in the draft, or more likely in free agency, that can help Favre in 2007.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

I hate all the stuff leading up to the Super Bowl. All the pregame analysis is generally a bunch of hot air. If ESPN had Ron Jaworski breaking down film everynight, I would probably watch that show, but unfortunately they usually have the embarrasing Sean Salisbury talking loudly at the camera. The advertising tie-ins are everywhere, QB Drew Brees couldn't go onto Dan Patrick's radio show without making sure he was allowed to pitch that he is Visa's NFL spokesman in Miami this week. However, when I read that the Navy is inviting a few Packers onto an aircraft carrier to watch the Super Bowl with the sailors onboard, well that is cool.