A Very Good Friday: Packers Sign Saturday

Most NFL wonks assumed free agent center Jeff Saturday would wait to see where Peyton Manning landed and if that team could use an upgrade, he would head there to once again welcome Manning's hands on his behind.

And so most believed the 5-time Pro Bowl center would join the Broncos at any moment, after visiting the Packers earlier in the week. But apparently Ted Thompson put our money where his mouth was and delivered a stronger offer than the Broncos. So Jeff Saturday is the new starting center for the Pack.

Maybe Denver believed he'd come running to join his longtime battery mate so they lowballed him. Contract terms have not been released as I write this, but it's believed the Pack's offer was much stronger than Denver's and so Saturday agreed to join up with Aaron Rodgers. Friendship with #18 aside, he knows his time is short and the Packers give him a better chance at another Super Bowl ring this season.

Saturday will be 37 in June, so this signing presents the rare free agency double whammy. For one thing, it marks Thompson's first such signing in three years; it also represents a one (or maybe two) year fix--something we rarely see from Thompson. But this one makes sense for a number of reasons.

First, the departure of Wells leaves the Packers with a gaping hole at the position, without a clear-cut successor in place. Second, the Packers enter 2012 as Super Bowl favorites and uncertainty at center would potentially slow down their high-powered offense, at least to start the season. Saturday has been an integral part of Manning's play-calling at the line for years : he's always in rhythm with his QB and always makes sure he and his linemates are ready. Expect Rodgers and Saturday to work together well and look for Thompson to find a potential successor in the later rounds over the weekend.

This signing eases concerns on the offensive line and allows Thompson to spend the rest of the next six weeks focused on one thing: improving the defense.

UPDATE: Thompson wasted no time looking toward the other side of the ball, re-signing defensive tackle Daniel Muir on Friday. An undrafted free agent who had a cup of coffee with the Pack in '07, Muir has been a sometimes starter for the Colts the past three seasons and adds a little depth and experience to the defensive line, which needs additional assistance. All in all, a very good Friday indeed.

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