Ted Thompson, general manager for the Green Bay Packers, recently shocked both the NFL and fans of the storied franchise when it was announced that the team had signed multiple free agents, including none other than five time pro bowler and Super Bowl champion center, Jeff Saturday.
However, with the Packers' rivals in the NFC North getting better and better (except for the Vikings, who seem to be getting worse), the race for the division title is only going to get harder. This begs the question: have the Packers taken a step back this offseason?
The Green Bay Packers aren't exactly known for signing free agents during the offseason. In fact, the last time they signed any notable player, it was 2006, when Charles Woodson and Ryan Pickett joined the team. Thompson is known for his love of developing and building up a great team through drafts, trying his best not to rely on picking up any costly free agents along the way.
However, following the terrible year the Packers defense had in 2011 (falling all the way to 32nd in the NFL after having been ranked in the top three in 2010) and the departure of center Scott Wells, there was cause for concern as to whether or not the draft could hold all the answers for Green Bay.
Luckily for Packer fans and the team itself, Thompson went out and signed an unprecedented (for him, at least) number of free agents, including an amazing replacement for ]Scott Wells in Jeff Saturday. Saturday, along with a couple of great defensive pickups (including Anthony Hargrove and Daniel Muir), makes it easier for Thompson in the draft, letting him focus on a few key positions the Packers could stand to improve.
Still, one could argue that with the loss of cornerback Pat Lee, the possible retirement of Nick Collins looming, and the fact that the NFC North is currently one of the toughest divisions in the NFL, the Packers have actually regressed this offseason.
Strengthening the defensive line and replacing their departed center may not be enough, as large questions remain at running back and in the secondary, as well as the search for an effective linebacker to put opposite Clay Matthews.
If you look closely at the team and their transactions so far, however, the Packers have calmly taken the necessary steps in the right direction. With the addition of Saturday, an already extremely talented group of offensive linemen will now have a veteran presence among them, one who not only has years worth of experience, but who will also be able to provide excellent protection to Aaron Rodgers.
Along with having one of the best offenses in the NFL, the Packers look like they are finally beginning to address the concerns that they've had on defense since last season. With the draft coming up, Ted Thompson can continue a history of being excellent with his picks, and focus on a few specific need positions.
Combined with the fact that this year, the Packers have the second-easiest schedule in the league, it would seem like everything is poised for them to make another run at the Super Bowl.