Monday, January 25, 2016

About Mike McCarthy Being "Fed Up" With GM Ted Thompson

There were a few times last season when I wondered if it would have helped if the Green Bay Packers had targeted a free agent or two, on a veteran's minimum contract, who might have helped out at some positions. Notably, the Arizona Cardinals had some success with low-priced veterans like RB Chris Johnson and DE Dwight Freeney in 2015. Apparently Bob McGinn has learned that coach Mike McCarthy was wondering the same thing.
It's hard to get too worked up over this report because in some ways it's old news. It reminds me of when almost everyone was upset that Thompson didn't pull the trigger in 2010 on a trade for RB Marshawn Lynch. Thompson turned out to be right in the sense that the Packers didn't need Lynch that season to win the Super Bowl, but Lynch would have still been worth whatever it would have taken to acquire him (the Bills gave up a 4th and a 5th round pick for him).

I wouldn't be surprised if McCarthy is looking for new answers after another playoff loss on the final play of the game. Having a veteran TE, a veteran DB, or a veteran ILB (instead of rotating Jake Ryan and Joe Thomas Jr.) might have made a small difference, but it could have turned one or two close losses this season into wins. Having no reliable inside LB other than Clay Matthews might have been his biggest regret because Bob McGinn specifically mentions the availability of ILB Mason Foster, who signed with the Redskins.

On the other hand, the NFL free agent market is a minefield. A healthy free agent who might be an average NFL player can command a bust-worthy multi-year contract while the true superstar who hits the market will get a cap crushing deal.

Typically the players who receiver one-year contracts aren't good or haven't been healthy for a while. Foster's a minor success story but other teams handed out one-year contracts to former Packer ILBs Desmond Bishop (released in early September) and Jamari Lattimore (played only on special teams for the Jets) without finding a starting caliber ILB. The Jets did well with ILB Erin Henderson, who could only get a one-year deal after a string of drinking and driving arrests ended his Vikings career, but obviously not every player with a checkered past is able to put it behind them. The Vikings signed Casey Matthews to compete at inside LB but he was hurt before the season even began. Signing a veteran on a one-year contract is much more likely to be a bust than even a mild success.

It's an odd time for this story to come out, on one hand, because this is the season that the Packers did sign WR James Jones to a one-year contract after his release from the Giants, and WR Jordy Nelson was lost for the year. I'm not sure any team in the NFL this season had a better one-year, unrestricted free agent signing than Jones. It's too bad he couldn't have played inside linebacker too.

McCarthy is used to having a deep bench to call on. The lack of depth at offensive tackle and inside linebacker were obvious, and the failure of WR Davante Adams to develop was disappointing, but these things don't always work out. The big takeaway for me in from Bob McGinn's article is that the Packers have really high standards, and if nothing less than a Super Bowl season is a disappointment, then you feel the same way as coach McCarthy.

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