With the advent of free agency (that’s a little Lenten joke, Chris), this is the time of year that we will once again be treated to the tired litany of complaints from fans and columnists that Packers general manager Ted Thompson won’t make the effort to sign a ‘big name’ player.  The funny thing is that the people who bag on TT for not spending lavishly in free agency would be the first ones to whine when those moves didn’t pan out.  

Every year, we see the same pattern when free agency starts.  A handful of marquee players sign big contracts with desperate teams the first weekend.  And more often than not, those moves turn out to be less than effective. 

I admit that a few weeks ago, I advocated that the Packers take a run at Titans defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth. But that was before the team decided to switch to a 3-4 defense and it was not without reservations about Haynesworth.  He has been labeled as a player of questionable character who tends to take plays off.  Now that the Washington Redskins have inked him to a $100 million contract, it will be interesting to see what kind of impact he has there.  Perhaps even more ridiculous than the Haynesworth signing is the $55 million that the Redskins committed to cornerback DeAngelo Hall, who came to the team after being released last season by the pathetic Oakland Raiders. 

In fact, Washington is a good example to use when looking for evidence of the dubious value of unabated free agent acquisitions.  Owner Daniel Snyder and, to a lesser extent Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, tend to run their teams like fantasy franchises; picking up whatever player is in vogue at the time without concern for how they will fit in their scheme and/or locker room.  This is noteworthy because that’s how many Packer fans would have Thompson run their favorite team.  For all the buzz generated by the ‘Skins and ‘Boys the last few offseasons, they have exactly one playoff win between them in the last ten years!

When used judiciously, free agency can be a good tool to plug the occasional hole in a lineup.  Atlanta Falcons running back Michael (The Burner) Turner and Green Bay’s own Charles Woodson would be two of the better examples of how to delve into that market.  But teams that use it as a ‘cure-all’ do so at their own peril.

 

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  • Jon

    I agree to some extent, although when the team makes a dramatic change in defensive philosophy it would seem like an ideal time to be a more active participant in free agency. Do the Packers really feel that their front seven, as is, will adapt quickly and effectively to a 3-4 when few if any of these guys have played in a 3-4 system? I understand that the philosophy has been to build through the draft, but they have been building a 4-3 defense through the draft and not a 3-4. Perhaps the Pack will look to some second-tier free agent types to build some depth with folks more familiar with the new system. If they sit tight they are sure putting a lot of faith, and pressure, in the new coaching staff.

    • http://mike Mike

      If you believe TT and M-3, it’s not all that different that they can’t make do with what they have. But I read this morning that they will likely lose Colin Cole. While Cole wasn’t a great player, losing him will certainly be a blow to their depth on the D-line. So, it would seem logical that they would at least do some shopping in the second tier. Unfortunately, that is not going to satisfy TT’s many detractors.