"I know (people) don't believe me, but we're always active in free agency," Thompson said during a break in the owners meetings Monday. "There have been a couple years here in a row that we haven't actually signed anybody.
"It doesn't mean we weren't active pursuing leads, trying to understand the market, doing all that. In the case of Jeff Saturday we were able to address a specific need that we felt like we needed to address because we were unable to sign Scott ( Wells)."
It's hard to notice because they don't (usually) end up signing anyone, but free agency is still part of their annual process. However, they've done such a good job of building the team (primarily through the draft) over the past few years that they don't have a big need to sign a particular free agent. The annual March free agent frenzy has been a sucker's game, and they've done well to avoid the high priced troubles.
Thinking more about Jeff Saturday, his signing had a perfect alignment of events to make it happen. The Packers had an immediate need to fill after Scott Wells left. Nick McDonald might have been the future, but he was bad last preseason, I understand why he was released, and it left them with no young successor waiting in the wings. Saturday still wanted to play, but he wanted a two-year deal when most teams probably viewed him as a one-year solution. And he's still good enough to start, so the Packers offered him starter's dollars when apparently no other team would. I can understand why no other team offered him a competitive contract, why shake up their center position for a one-year solution, but if there was another team seriously interested in him, it's likely the Packers would have been outbid.
Now the Packers can draft Saturday's replacement, give the rookie a year or two to develop (as they did recently with T.J. Lang), and give Saturday the opportunity to start for a couple more years. It's not what I was expecting a month ago, but it's seemed to work out for both sides.