Packers XLV

Prepare To Wave Good-bye To Some Packer Greats

Posted March 12th, 2012 @ 02:03pm

Some of the sure signs of spring: March Madness is in the air, mock NFL drafts are sprouting up everywhere and Ted Thompson will watch his roster get younger. With free agency opening up this week, it's likely we'll say 'thanks for the memories' to these good to great longtime Packers:

Chad Clifton, Scott Wells, Ryan Grant, Donald Driver.

OK, there's a good chance Driver and the Pack will agree on a restructured deal to keep the future Packer Hall of Famer on the roster. But with five young WRs on the roster (Jennings, Nelson, Jones, Cobb and Gurley), Thompson may make the hard decision to part ways with #80. I wouldn't have a big problem with this. The former 7th rounder from Alcorn State has had an amazing career and proved in the playoff game that he can still be counted on. But at 37 he's entering an age when very few receivers can still be effective and unless he accept the veteran minimum, I think the Pack would be wise to keep Gurley and see what you have with him. Cobb will be a much bigger part of the offense in 2012 as well, limiting Drivers snaps.

Clifton is another guy who may agree to a restructured deal. Marshall Newhouse showed he is up to the challenge of manning the position, at least until Derek Sherrod gets healthy and grows into the role. As solid as he has been over the years, Clifton's body is breaking down and would need to play at a much lower cap number, with incentives built in based on starts. My hunch is he's a goner.

As I've written here before, I expect Scott Wells to move on as well. I don't think he'll get the money he thinks he'll get, but I think he wants to go somewhere where he feels more wanted. If he leaves, look for Thompson to replace him with a free agent center. There are a handful of pretty good options out there.

It's hard to believe anyone will be real excited about signing a soon to be 30-year-old running back, but Ryan Grant will explore his options. He may wind up back in Titletown, especially considering Alex Green's injury, but Thompson probably views him as very replaceable and I think he'll move on from #25.

A lot of Packer fans are dreaming about a Mario Williams signing and my response is 'what planet are you living on?' We can all dream about a stud pass rusher opposite Clay Matthews, but there's no chance Thompson signs the young Texan star, who made the switch from a 4-3 end to a 3-4 backer in Wade Phillips' scheme. He is going to get huge money (Chicago? Washington?) and that is something Thompson refuses to do.

Ultimately he may add a couple of guys in free agency, but outside of grabbing a center fairly early, the good bet is that Thompson will hang out on the sidelines during the frenzy of the first week and then jump on the phones after the first wave has passed. As you know, he regards free agency as a game for amateurs. Prime time for him comes at the draft.

It may cause some hand-wringing as we watch our competitors stock up in March, but we all know the Pack's enviable young roster was built in April.

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How do I update my info? I now live in Plymouth & would like to be "Rob from Plymouth" if it is not taken. It will be sad to see some of these guys go but it is like Vic Ketchman from packers.com says, this is a young man's league so the "old guys" have to go at some point to make room for the "young guys". I will especially miss Scott Wells since he has been a rock at center & Donald Driver for his amazing attitude & ability to catch the ball pretty consistently. It's time the Packers take a look at who they have at WR from the practice squad such as Torrie Gurley. Chad Clifton has been solid for years but his body is definitely breaking down. Grant can certainly be replaced although he did help Green Bay get something resembling a running game going. I'm sure Ted Thompson will make the right decisions via free agency & draft. Another excelllent post Dave! Go Pack!

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on March 13th, 2012 at 10:53am

I think it's safe to say that TT was expecting this and has planned accordingly, otherwise Wells wouldn't have been going anywhere. We'll all just have to wait and see.

on March 17th, 2012 at 05:29pm

It appears that Wells has gone to the Rams. That's really too bad, but I'm guessing this has to really do with two things: 1. Wells was never a Thompson guy, he was part of the Mike Sherman Drafts 2. Wells was once benched in favor of Jason Spitz, a Thompson guy. It think number #2 has more to do with Wells asking for big money and demanding the Packers pay up. By all accounts, he was very professional both in practice, in the locker room and during negotiations. He preferred to show what he was worth with this play. Considering a lot of current players were going to bat for him, to get the Packers to re-sign him (Rodgers, Lang, etc), it shows they felt he was worth the big bucks for all the hidden stuff he does on the field, calling out the line coverages, etc. I don't blame him for sticking to his guns and asking for what he's worth. He clearly was entitled to do so. Now, the Packers will need find a suitable replacement for him. By failing to re-sign Wells, It seems they may have underestimated the importance of Wells and his play at Center. Using history as a guide, it's unlikely Thompson will sign a free agent Center, so that means drafting one, or going with an unsigned rookie free agent. Either way, it looks like the Packers will have a sizable drop off of play at Center for the 2012 season. That's too bad, considering the offensive line is certainly not set and not an area of strength even if Wells re-signed. Thompson always surprises me though. So, given his track record, I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt. However, the margin of error here is so small, it will be obvious point of immediate criticism if the line play is not up to par.

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