Green Bay Packers: The 5 Worst Free-Agent Signings in Packers History
The 2012 NFL free agency period started on March 13th and has begun with quite a flourish for some teams. Just ask the Tampa Bay Bucs, who have already signed WR Vincent Jackson ($55.55 million contract), G Carl Nicks ($47.5 million deal ), Eric Wright ($37.5 million) and QB Dan Orlovsky.
Or look at the Buffalo Bills, who just signed Mario Williams to a $100 million contract. And $50 million of that deal is guaranteed as well.
But then you have the Green Bay Packers and Ted Thompson. If free agency were a race, Thompson would be the tortoise. Always moving slowly. The Packers still haven't signed anyone, and they lost C Scott Wells to the St. Louis Rams via free agency.
Up to now, in seven years, Thompson has signed 10 unrestricted free agents. Thompson hit gold in 2006 when he signed Charles Woodson and Ryan Pickett.
But Thompson has missed on free agents like Adrian Klemm, Matt O'Dwyer, Marc Boerigter and Marquand Manuel. Those free-agent misses happened during Thompson's first two years on the job as general manager.
But again, Thompson did hit on Woodson and Pickett big time in 2006. Both players are STILL with the club, too.
Since 2007, Thompson has only signed three unrestricted free agents: CB Frank Walker, LB Brandon Chillar and C/G Duke Preston. Chillar was the only one of those three who really made an impact on the team.
Now Thompson does sign a lot of "street" free agents or rookie free agents. Players like Tramon Williams, Sam Shields, Frank Zombo, Erik Walden and Tim Masthay fall into this classification.
Ron Wolf did a nice job adding pieces to the Packers in the 1990s via free agency. He had a few misses, but overall his track record was VERY good.
Mike Sherman was not as fortunate. In fact, Sherman did not fare well in free agency, nor did he draft well when he became general manager. Sherman was a decent coach, but his decisions in the front office came back to haunt him.
Three out of the five worst free-agent signings in Green Bay history came under the watch of Sherman, in fact.
DE Joe Johnson
DE Joe Johnson was signed in 2002 by Mike Sherman to help the Green Bay pass rush, but was a colossal bust. He was an aging and often-injured player (played in only 11 games for the Packers) who registered only two sacks in two seasons.
Before Johnson became a Packer, he played pretty well for the New Orleans Saints for eight seasons, registering 50.5 sacks.
Johnson was selected to four Pro Bowl teams and was named All-Pro once as a Saint.
But in Green Bay, Johnson was a shadow of his former self.
Johnson also wreaked havoc on the Packer salary cap situation because of his $6 million signing bonus and $36 million contract.
The Class of 2005 (G Adrian Klemm and G Matt O'Dwyer)
Both guards were brought in by Ted Thompson in 2005 to replace two very good guards in Mike Wahle and Marco Rivera, who left Green Bay as free agents.
Wahle and Rivera had Pro Bowl talent, but Klemm and O'Dwyer were less than mediocre. O'Dwyer didn't even make the roster, while Klemm was never consistent at the LG position.
This decision put the Packers' offensive line behind the eight ball in 2005, as there was never any cohesiveness or effectiveness from the line that year. The Packers finished 4-12 in 2005, the first losing season in Green Bay since 1991.
There was no running game to speak of and Brett Favre threw a career-high 29 interceptions.
The Packers drafted three offensive linemen in 2006 because of this sorry situation.
S Mark Roman
Mark Roman was brought in to solidify the safety position in 2004 by Sherman. He did exactly the opposite.
Roman looked lost in coverage way too often and he missed a lot of tackles as well.
Roman had no interceptions and although he did make some tackles, he never forced a fumble and he whiffed on way too many tackling attempts in 2004.
Roman was part of the secondary which was exposed in the 31-17 loss to the Minnesota Vikings in the Wild Card Game at Lambeau Field. Daunte Culpepper threw four TD passes that day, including two to Randy Moss.
Roman played better in 2005 for the Packers, but the Packers had seen enough and that was Roman's final year in Green Bay.
LB Hannibal Navies
Hannibal Navies also lasted just two years in Green Bay. Navies was also brought in by Sherman in 2003. Navies was sometimes okay, but he never made the big plays needed at the LB position.
Navies had just 1.5 sacks in his time as a Packer and had no interceptions. Again, that was over a two-year period. Not exactly a big-play linebacker, huh?
Navies did force two fumbles in 2003, but didn't force any in 2004. Unlike Roman, Navies played better his first year in Green Bay, as opposed to his second.
But again, the Packers had seen enough to let Navies go after the 2004 season.
S Pat Terrell
S Pat Terrell was signed in 1998 by Ron Wolf from the Carolina Panthers. Terrell was supposed to add some veteran leadership to the Green Bay secondary, as the Packers had just drafted rookie S Darren Sharper that year.
Terrell started three games in 1998 for the Packers at FS, as the Packers had to move Shaper to CB for a while due to an injury to CB Craig Newsome. However, Terrell was active for all 16 games that year, including the infamous Wild Card Playoff Game against the San Francisco 49ers.
Bottom line, Terrell had one pick and one sack in 1998, a year in which the secondary of the Packers was continually getting burned on deep passes. It all started when Randy Moss exposed the Green Bay secondary in Week 5 when he caught five passes for 190 yards and two TDs.
All you need to know about Terrell is his final play as a Green Bay Packer. It was the Steve Young desperation pass to Terrell Owens in the Wild Card Game with just seconds remaining.
Owens caught the 25-yard TD pass just in front of Terrell, who closed too late to break up the pass. That game was also Mike Holmgren's final game as head coach of the Packers.