Packers quickly break from a 25-year free-agency trend

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Twenty-five years ago, true free agency came to the NFL. And the Green Bay Packers emerged as the biggest winners, landing (with some divine intervention) future Hall of Famer Reggie White. From 1994 through 2017, the Packers added only three other veteran free agents from other teams with widespread name recognition: Charles Woodson, Julius Peppers, and Martellus Bennett.

That’s four in a quarter-century. In one day, they agreed to terms with two. Jimmy Graham and Muhammad Wilkerson have joined the team, creating a palpable sense that, while former G.M. Ted Thompson opted to sit in his car, new G.M. Brian Gutekunst is in the store, not only browsing but also buying.

The drawback, of course, is that shopping for new players often entails getting rid of existing ones, making the departure of receiver Jordy Nelson a sobering aspect to an otherwise invigorating day for Packers fans. But Nelson and his $10 million-plus compensation package likely were gone anyway; his fate was sealed when Davante Adams re-signed in January.

The far more significant news for the Packers is that they may finally be realizing that drafting and developing isn’t the only way to build a team. If they’ll be embracing fully and completely (but with proper balance) the concept of free agency, maybe they’ll find a way to add a Lombardi Trophy or two before Aaron Rodgers walks away.

59 responses to “Packers quickly break from a 25-year free-agency trend

  1. Its funny how the Packers get negative comments considering they have top 3 record in those 25 years, been to 3 Super Bowls, and won 2. Dont forget Rodgers has at least another 5 years. If you want to comment about inept teams try to focus on teams that have been in the league over a half century and won absolutely nothing.

  2. Good Points Mike!

    Explore all options to build a team. Can’t say I’m missing ol’ money ball Ted. Even if the results aren’t perfect. We have potentially addressed two glaring deficiencies before we even hit the draft.

    Ted would be working with 10 late round picks that could barely make special teams.

  3. Or to put it another way, our elite qb has one more SB victory than the entire Vikings organization has ever had.

  4. xavier179 says:
    March 14, 2018 at 9:43 am
    You really think by adding those two that you may win one or two Lombardis. Your elite quarterback has one Super Bowl victory….one!

    ——-

    Now tell me about Cousins’ resume…..

    SMH

  5. Jordy Nelson really became even more expendable when Jimmy Graham was signed. If the choice was to get Aaron Rodgers’ 6 foot 7 red zone choice at TE, or to keep a slower injury prone Jordy Nelson for the same price, there really was no choice. Jimmy Graham is younger and offers more upside to the Packers offense.

  6. ariani1985 says:
    March 14, 2018 at 9:39 am
    now they only have to break the 25 year old trend of getting embarrassed in the playoffs!!!

    ////

    Do Viking fans have any shame? Especially after last years championship game debacle.

  7. Sorry, Florio, but 25 years is a terribly inaccurate timeframe. Ron Wolf used free agency a lot, including many who helped win XXXI. White remains the greatest free agent signing ever, but there was Sean Jones, Santana Dotson, Keith Jackson, Andre Rison, Don Beebe, Desmond Howard, Eugene Robinson, Gilbert Brown, and Frank Winters. Mike Sherman used it, but was awful at it. So, they’ve only mostly avoided it for about 12 years, not 25.

  8. Which Muhammad Wilkerson will the packers be getting? The motivated monster or the guy that the Jets couldn’t wait to get rid of? Should be interesting with a guy like that in Green Bay. Might go the way if Martellus Bennett

  9. The Vikings paying $84 million to a guy who has never won a playoff game…the team that knew him best, that drafted him let him walk rather than pay him….this will be fun to watch.

  10. I would rather have Jordy than both guys. I mean this in all seriousness. Jordy and Rodgers had something good. Rodgers will struggle if him and Graham don’t hit it off quick. Cobb has shown time and time again he is not a number one. Its to early to tell if Adams truely is.

  11. In Teddy We Trusted says:
    March 14, 2018 at 10:00 am
    For years, Packer fans told us free agency was a terrible way to build a team. Now they’re all on board with signing a locker room cancer and an overpaid has-been.

    ——–

    Very few fans told you that. Building through the draft while augmenting your team with free agents is how Ron Wolf got his ring here.

    You should direct your bitterness at Spielman, who just mortgaged your next 3 years on a guy who really hasn’t done anything. Welcome to salary cap hell.

    Your starting to look more and more like the Dolphin dumpster fire he started down in Miami.

  12. pkrlvr says:
    March 14, 2018 at 9:47 am
    Or to put it another way, our elite qb has one more SB victory than the entire Vikings organization has ever had.

    ////////

    So when Minnesota eventually wins one what will it be then? With the way the Packers are going Mr Rodgers may never see another Super Bowl in his career. Now all Packers fans have become Nostradamus and can predict how well Cousins will do. The Packers organization may have realized too late that football is a team game and Hail Marys don’t win championships.The one and only Super Bowl victory with Rodgers is when the Packers D was top 5 I think? Two years Rodgers has left, and I’ve said it before. If things don’t go well he will not be under center in a couple of years in Green Bay.

  13. Jimmy Graham is younger and offers more upside to the Packers offense.
    =====

    They’ve never had a problem scoring points when Rodgers was healthy.

    Nelson is the most productive pass-catcher of the Rodgers-era.

    Graham has had a BIG problem getting open, catching passes, and staying motivated.

    This is a net loss.

  14. Sorry, Florio, but 25 years is a terribly inaccurate timeframe. Ron Wolf used free agency a lot, including many who helped win XXXI. White remains the greatest free agent signing ever, but there was Sean Jones, Santana Dotson, Keith Jackson, Andre Rison, Don Beebe, Desmond Howard, Eugene Robinson, Gilbert Brown, and Frank Winters.
    =====

    Point made.. but Keith Jackson and Eugene Robinson were trades.. and Gilbert Brown was a waiver claim. Thanks to the Vikes for dumping him!! We greatly appreciate it!

  15. Adding a TE who can’t block won’t help the Packers weak run game and adding a ‘cancer’ in the locker room won’t help the Packers weak defense. Jordy deserved better treatment. Two years ago he had nearly 100 catches for 1200 yards and 14 TDs with Rodgers, then his numbers are down last year with Hundley. He still has something left in the tank and will make another team better.

  16. 13xworldchamps says:
    March 14, 2018 at 9:59 am

    The Vikings paying $84 million to a guy who has never won a playoff game…the team that knew him best, that drafted him let him walk rather than pay him….this will be fun to watch
    ——————————————————————————
    It is a team sport. To blame Cousins for the Redskins not getting enough talent around him to win playoff games is ridiculous. Check his numbers as a starter, they are lights out. The Cardinals just paid $20 for Bradford, who is always injured and has never thrown for over 4000 yards in season or over 21 Tds in a season.

    The team that knew him best let him go because they couldn’t afford him not because they didn’t want him. They franchised 2 years in row so they obviously did want him.

  17. Vikings fans are truly a pathetic bunch. They actually create screen names to hide their true identity of being a Viking fan. A sad sad group. I actually feel sorry for them to stoop to such lows. Congrats Lions and bears fans for actually having some class and self respect. Bravo.

  18. boiler72 says:

    March 14, 2018 at 9:52 am

    Sorry, Florio, but 25 years is a terribly inaccurate timeframe. Ron Wolf used free agency a lot, including many who helped win XXXI. White remains the greatest free agent signing ever, but there was Sean Jones, Santana Dotson, Keith Jackson, Andre Rison, Don Beebe, Desmond Howard, Eugene Robinson, Gilbert Brown, and Frank Winters. Mike Sherman used it, but was awful at it. So, they’ve only mostly avoided it for about 12 years, not 25.

    As a lifelong Packers fan I totally agree with you and I agree with Florio as well. For years Ted Thompson stood by his draft and develop philosophy and it usually worked until last year when the roster was too thin to make up for the injuries.

    It remains to be seen if the new GM’s way of doing business will work but I at least applaud him for trying and being aggressive.

  19. Very few fans told you that. Building through the draft while augmenting your team with free agents is how Ron Wolf got his ring here.
    =====

    Played a big role in Teds also.

    Woodson, Pickett.. and they don’t win without role players Charlie Peprah and Howard Green.

  20. @ariani1985 says:

    now they only have to break the 25 year old trend of getting embarrassed in the playoffs!!!

    ———————————————-

    Embarrassing? 38-7.

  21. Regardless of Woodson and Picketts success, Ted had some gigantic misses in free agency early on;

    Adrian Klemm
    Matt O’Dwyer (signed to replace Wahle, didn’t even make the team)
    Marquand Manuel
    Earl Little (his replacement for Sharper, lasted 4 games)
    Robert Thomas
    Ben Taylor

    Couple that with limited returns on Marty Bennett and Jared Cook, and its easy to see why he didn’t go this route.

  22. I generally like seeing a team building from within, but you do need to balance it out with some free agent signings. Ron Wolf seemed to master that balance early in his tenure with Green Bay, and I hope Gutekunst does the same.

  23. .. and look at Teds Drafts from 2005-2010

    Rodgers
    Collins
    Hawk
    College
    Jennings
    Nelson
    Finley
    Matthews
    Raji
    Lang
    Sitton
    Bulaga

    Thompson didn’t HAVE to use FA.

    They stopped drafting well, and the D completely fell apart. THAT is why they are in the spot they’re in. No other reason.

  24. Ted Thompson was the worst GM in the history of the NFL.
    ——
    I’d think the Lombardi trophy from 2010 would make that impossible, considering how many GM’s have never seen one. One just needs to look a little to the west for an example.

  25. Rodgers
    Collins
    Hawk
    College
    Jennings
    Nelson
    Finley
    Matthews
    Raji
    Lang
    Sitton
    Bulaga
    ——-
    One name doesn’t belong on that list

  26. While those are solid signings, it is kinda funny that it’s taken the Packer brass 5 years to figure out that signing free agents to supplement the roster is actually a good thing.

  27. To quote Colin Herd, the Packers have done the impossible, created no cap space and have a terrible roster….LOL #NOPACKNO…Hail mary’s will be flying a lot this year…

  28. In 2015 Wilkerson was very good.
    Then he got paid. He had trouble coming to team meetings on time.
    He had a bad 2016 coming back from a broken leg.
    2017 he was ok, but not worth anywhere near what he was paid.

    Could be very good, if he tries hard. Could be another Haynesworth.

  29. One name doesn’t belong on that list
    =====

    Colledge was a 5-year starter, on a Super Bowl winner.

    Hawk was a solid 9-year starter. Miscast terribly in the 3-4. Not enough speed to get sideline-to-sideline. Certainly not a bad draft pick though.

    Bad picks? In relation to Justin Harrell.. Brian Brohm.. Pat Lee.. Mike Neal.. Datone Jones.. Jerel Worthy…

  30. i think this new gms britches are to big for him. in two days he blew up the corner back position, while acquiring another soon to be under preforming back up, cut a fan and locker room fav and replaced him with a player that has the same niche but is less capable of producing yardage(specially in those scramble drills). the only positive move he has done is attain Wilkerson only because its a team friendly deal. didn’t agree with ted the last few years but this guy seems to be trigger happy now that he gets to push the button

  31. aarons444 says:
    March 14, 2018 at 10:37 am
    Very few fans told you that. Building through the draft while augmenting your team with free agents is how Ron Wolf got his ring here.
    =====

    Played a big role in Teds also.

    Woodson, Pickett.. and they don’t win without role players Charlie Peprah and Howard Green.

    ————

    The difference is the amount of picks ted would stockpile, resulting in an overcrowded pool and good players going elsewhere to become probowlers.

    Always quantity over quality.

  32. The difference is the amount of picks ted would stockpile, resulting in an overcrowded pool and good players going elsewhere to become probowlers.
    =====

    Two guys, Sitton and Lang.

    Sitton is on the street already.

  33. Gigantic misses? Which of these guys was offered “gigantic” Money? You are in the weeds here.

    Adrian Klemm
    Matt O’Dwyer (signed to replace Wahle, didn’t even make the team)
    Marquand Manuel
    Earl Little (his replacement for Sharper, lasted 4 games)
    Robert Thomas
    Ben Taylor

  34. Ryan Pickett was a great signing. Signed as a free agent in 2006, and started and played well for 8 years in Green Bay. Got himself a ring, and an the everlasting legacy as a World Champion in the process.

    Even our so called failures yield better results than the teams that aren’t consistently exceptional like we are.

  35. Aaron Rodgers, 45td’s to TE’s over the course of his career. GB did good by signing Jimmy Graham. Now use him properly, more as a wide out than a TE. This season should be fun!

  36. Nelson is a better receiver than Graham. Nelson is a better blocker than Graham. There are plenty of good tight ends available in the draft who will be better blockers than Graham. We do not have a receiver who can get behind the safeties on our roster.

    Just stating the facts.

  37. GB did good by signing Jimmy Graham. Now use him properly, more as a wide out than a TE. This season should be fun!
    ======

    Right.. whats more dangerous than a 6’7 260lb target that can’t out run anybody???…

  38. Ted Thompson was the worst GM in the history of the NFL.
    —————————————————
    Mike Sherman anyone?
    ======

    4 consecutive Division crowns
    4 consecutive 10+ win seasons
    Didn’t have a losing season until Ted nuked his team

    .. Sherman was Bob Harlans mistake.

  39. aarons444 says:
    March 15, 2018 at 9:02 am
    Ted Thompson was the worst GM in the history of the NFL.
    —————————————————
    Mike Sherman anyone?
    ======

    4 consecutive Division crowns
    4 consecutive 10+ win seasons
    Didn’t have a losing season until Ted nuked his team

    .. Sherman was Bob Harlans mistake.

    —–

    My god are you a Thompson apologist.

    BTW,

    Casey hayward and Micah Hyde both made pro bowls after being allowed to become free agents by your protege.

  40. My god are you a Thompson apologist.

    Casey hayward and Micah Hyde both made pro bowls after being allowed to become free agents by your protege.
    ======

    Hayward had a stellar rookie year, then he couldn’t stay healthy to save his life. I’m not giving you that one. There was no reason whatsoever to believe he would rebound.

    Yep, you’re right on Hyde. 2nd-team All-Pro last year… But lets not pretend Dom Capers knew what to do with him. He floundered for 4 years in GB in a bad system.

    So you can name 3 guys out of how many? The overwhelming majority of the time, Ted cut bait at the right time. Did you want to retain guys like Jennings, Colledge, Eddie Lacy.. Ahman Green.. Darren Sharper? C’mon!

    .. and yes, I do respect the job Ted did. I think his downfall is and was Mike McCarthy. Ted hired the second coming of Marty Schottenheimer.

  41. aarons444 says:
    March 15, 2018 at 11:55 am
    My god are you a Thompson apologist.

    Casey hayward and Micah Hyde both made pro bowls after being allowed to become free agents by your protege.
    ======

    Hayward had a stellar rookie year, then he couldn’t stay healthy to save his life. I’m not giving you that one. There was no reason whatsoever to believe he would rebound.

    Yep, you’re right on Hyde. 2nd-team All-Pro last year… But lets not pretend Dom Capers knew what to do with him. He floundered for 4 years in GB in a bad system.

    So you can name 3 guys out of how many? The overwhelming majority of the time, Ted cut bait at the right time. Did you want to retain guys like Jennings, Colledge, Eddie Lacy.. Ahman Green.. Darren Sharper? C’mon!

    .. and yes, I do respect the job Ted did. I think his downfall is and was Mike McCarthy. Ted hired the second coming of Marty Schottenheimer.

    ——

    Mike already won a Superbowl. Bad analogy. Marty coached his way out of ever getting to one.

    Pro bowl is pro bowl. We let them leave and they excelled. That hasn’t happened on the offensive side as much as the defensive side. I always said Ted did not get Dom the players his scheme needed. Then when they leave they excel in someone else’s system. That’s on Dom and Ted.

    I don’t hate what Ted did over the years. My opinion in the last 3-4 he got stagnant.

    I am not also crowning Mccarthy in this. I believe it’s his sh*t or get off the pot season.

    I do have hope for the D coordinator and the moves being made to get the talent level back up quickly. If we didn’t have a middle aged hall of fame QB in his prime, I would say gut it. But this is what is needed. Get some pieces and see how close we are to getting back to the Superbowl. I think this team will be in the discussion with some upgrades not a rebuild.

  42. My opinion in the last 3-4 he got stagnant.
    =====

    Agreed for the most part.

    3 weak and unproductive drafts (2011-2013) were the culprit, IMO. They were loaded for bear in 2011 and couldn’t capitalize because the roster immediately started thinning out.

    But there was no sense of urgency either. Dom should have been run off after that NFCC Game implosion. That should have been the last straw after one miserable playoff showing after another.

    .. I’m no fan of McCarthy. He’s Mike Sherman, graced with a better QB and a deeper roster.

    Unlike Marty Ball, Mike may have a Ring, but I can’t think of another coach that has as many catastrophic implosions on his resume. Marty lost a lot of big games, Mike loses them in the most gutwrenching ways imaginable.

  43. aarons444 says:
    March 15, 2018 at 1:04 pm
    My opinion in the last 3-4 he got stagnant.
    =====

    Unlike Marty Ball, Mike may have a Ring, but I can’t think of another coach that has as many catastrophic implosions on his resume. Marty lost a lot of big games, Mike loses them in the most gutwrenching ways imaginable.

    ——-

    Woah.

    You forget those Browns Broncos playoff games?

    He’s got Mcfatty beat there too!!!

  44. You forget those Browns Broncos playoff games?
    =====

    Kapernick running for 191 yards.. racking up 444 total yards… by himself
    Managing to lose a 19-7 lead with under 4:00 to go

    How many gutless efforts by his D? 2007, 2009, 2011, 2016

    Hell, he tried everything he could to lose the Super Bowl he won. Rodgers had to seal the deal on his final drive. 3 more minutes and McCarthy loses that one too.

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