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Ted Thompson: Trades,Free Agency and Draft

The trade deadline passed this week without any action. The inaction by the Packers is not really indicative of much, as no team made a trade at the deadline, but it stands as a symbol of Ted Thompson’s unwillingness to improve his team outside of the draft. Unfortunately, his team is the Packers, and the draft has not been all that kind to Thompson in the past few years.

It seems that Thompson had done a quality job finding top talent in the past. Though I still thoroughly enjoy watching Brett Favre, even though he currently dons purple, Aaron Rodgers is a better quarterback for these Packers. Unfortunately, everyone cheering Thompson for making this decision about one player ignores his decisions about the rest of the team. Sure, having a quality quarterback is crucial, but it’s a team sport. And the team that currently has Favre, the supposedly lesser quarterback than Rodgers, has more wins than the Packers and no losses.

Though Thompson is said to want to build the Packers through the draft, this has failed. Though only 12 players on their current roster are free agents or the result of trades, 11 of these players are first-string starters (counting 27 players as first-string starters, including all unique offensive, defensive, and special teams starters). That compares with just five starters out of 23 players on the roster as a result of the last three drafts, and no starters out of the six free-agent signings in 2009 that are on the roster. That’s not building a team from the draft, but instead filling out a roster through the draft.

The Minnesota Vikings, and I use the Vikings as a comparison because they lead the division, obtained more than half of their starters (14 of 27) through free agency or trades. However, it can hardly be said that the Vikings only built their team through free agency. The player widely regarding as the NFL’s best offensive player, Adrian Peterson, was drafted by the Vikings in 2007. Two of Favre’s targets, Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin, have both been drafted in the past three years. In fact, the Vikings have more draft choices since 2007 as starters (6) than do the Packers (5). If the plan of a team is to build a team through the draft, it seems that the Vikings are outdoing the Packers on that front, too.

The problem with Thompson’s philosophy of building a team through the draft is that it ignores history. Looking back to the Packers most recent Super Bowl team shows a roster filled with players that were not drafted by the team. The most heralded free agent in NFL history, Reggie White, headlined a team of free agents and traded players, including key players Don Beebe, Andre Rison, Keith Jackson, Sean Jones, Santana Dotson and Eugene Robinson, as well as Super Bowl MVP Desmond Howard, and, of course, Brett Favre.

Ron Wolf built a Super Bowl team. What are the Packers?

Packers Mix blog featured writers John Linn, Zach Letter
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