Since the arrival of Ted Thompson as GM for Green Bay in 2005, the Packers have been a draft-and-develop team, for the most part.
Yes, occasionally Thompson will dip his toes into the free-agency waters like he did in 2006 when he signed both DB Charles Woodson and DL Ryan Pickett—and of course this year when Thompson signed C Jeff Saturday, DL Daniel Muir, DL Anthony Hargrove and DL Phillip Merling.
But seldom has Thompson made big splashes for the Packers, either in free agency or by making trades.
Then in 2009, Thompson had a chance to acquire TE Tony Gonzalez from the Kansas City Chiefs, and he once again refused to part with the necessary ammunition to make the trade.
In those years, John Schneider was part of the Green Bay front office, and he always was pushing Thompson to be more aggressive. Schneider, who is now the general manager of the Seattle Seahawks, put his money where his mouth is this year, as the Hawks recently signed free-agent WR Terrell Owens.
Bottom line, Thompson has been very conservative in the way he has built the Packers roster.
Again—draft and develop.
Benson is a good RB, don't get me wrong. He rushed for more than 1,000 yards in three consecutive years with the Cincinnati Bengals. Benson also is very familiar with the NFC North, as he played with the Chicago Bears for the first three years of his career.
However, Benson also has been arrested on multiple occasions. That is probably the biggest reason I believed Thompson would not sign a guy like him.
Plus, former Packer Ryan Grant is still available if the Packers wanted a veteran RB.
However, Benson and Grant are different types of backs. Benson is an in-between-the-tackles type of runner who is good in short-yardage situations, while Grant is a plant-and-go type of RB who looks for daylight.
If the Packers do indeed sign Benson, clearly the team and Thompson are not happy with the RB situation.
RB James Starks dropped an easy pass, and then fumbled in the first preseason game versus the San Diego Chargers. Starks also has been prone to not knowing his assignments, much to the displeasure of QB Aaron Rodgers.
The Packers thought they had a feature RB in Starks, based on his performance in the 2010 NFL postseason when he gained 315 yards to lead all RBs in the league. Starks also showed flashes last year before knee and ankle injuries caused him to miss some time.
It sure looks like Starks is now on a short leash, based on the Benson rumors.
The Packers also are being very careful about using second-year RB Alex Green, who is coming off an ACL injury from last season. The Packers really like Green, but they want to make sure he is completely healthy before giving him too much of a role in the offense.
In addition to Green, RB Brandon Saine has been out with a hamstring injury. Rookie RB Marc Tyler looked pretty good against the Chargers on Aug. 9, but a late fumble didn't help his cause.
Bottom line, if Benson is indeed signed by the Packers, it will do one thing for certain: It will tell the young backs (i.e., Starks, Green, Saine and Tyler) not to take anything for granted. It will push the competitive juices for all the RBs not just in being productive but also in not making mistakes on the football field.
Are you listening, Mr. Starks?
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