As Ted Thompson and the Green Bay Packers ponder what to do when the NFL 2012 free-agency season begins on March 13, they must continue to stay true to their past. The results have been more than acceptable.
Thompson came back to the Packers from the Seattle Seahawks in 2005 to become Vice President, General Manager and Director of Football Operations for the Packers.
Thompson got his regime off to a great start by making QB Aaron Rodgers his first ever draft pick in 2005, and he followed that by selecting S Nick Collins next.
However, the 2005 season did not go as well. Under head coach Mike Sherman, the Packers finished the season 4-12.
Thompson fired Sherman after the 2005 season, and after an extensive interviewing process, hired Mike McCarthy. Thompson helped his new coach a bit by adding two key free agents before the 2006 season. They were CB Charles Woodson and DT Ryan Pickett.
Since the McCarthy era started in 2006, the Packers have been 63-33 in the regular season, 5-3 in the postseason, have appeared in two NFC Championship games, winning one, and have also won Super Bowl XLV.
The reason? Thompson has stayed true to his formula. Thompson has built the roster of the Packers primarily through the use of the draft. Thompson has also re-signed free agents on his own team, as opposed to signing players from other teams, although he will at rare times.
Thompson is better known for signing "street" or rookie free agents. Players like CB Tramon Williams, CB Sam Shields, QB Graham Harrell, TE Tom Crabtree, DL Howard Green, LB Robert Francois and S Charlie Peprah fall into this category.
Whatever Thompson does usually works. The proof is in the pudding. Thompson must stay true to his philosophy in 2012 as well. He also must stay true to his past experiences, especially the ones that have led to success.
Sometimes, Thompson will take risks. It was somewhat risky when he signed Woodson in 2006. It was definitely risky when he traded Brett Favre in 2008. It was also risky when he traded three draft picks to move up to select Clay Matthews in the the first round of the 2009 NFL draft.
All of those risks have paid off. Just remember that as we move forward towards free agency and the draft.
I see four key elements for Thompson as he and his staff strategize about putting together the 2012 Green Bay Packers.