It's officially Halloween. And Ted Thompson could be contemplating a possible trade to improve the running back position on the Green Bay Packers.
It's apropos on this day that one of the people advising Thompson about this situation is named Wolf. That would be Eliot Wolf, the director of pro personnel for the Packers. Wolf's father, Ron, the former general manager of the Packers, was known for making trades as well. So one could say, making trades is in the Wolf "bloodline".
It was Ron Wolf who traded for Brett Favre. Wolf also acquired players like wide receiver Mark Ingram, tight end Keith Jackson, safety Eugene Robinson and running back Ahman Green via the trade route too.
Back to the current dilemma. The Packers may be thinking about improving their running back situation because of a lack of production at the position.
Thompson thought he had solved the situation in training camp when he signed Cedric Benson after James Starks had suffered a turf toe injury in the first preseason game.
The Packers should look to bolster the depth at running back because of Stark's injury-checkered past, plus second-year back Alex Green was coming off an ACL tear from last season.
The move looked like it was paying dividends when Benson was injured in the game against the Indianapolis Colts.
Benson seemed to be finding his niche with the Packers after a tough start in the opener vs. the 49ers. Benson had his best game of the season the week before the Colts game, when he rushed for 84 yards against the New Orleans Saints. In addition to that, Benson was catching the ball well, as he had 14 receptions.
For the season, Benson was projected to run for a little less than 1,000 yards for the Packers and catch almost 50 passes. That would have been nice production in the pass-first offense that the Packers employ.
But then came the sprained foot injury in the Indy game. The Packers placed Benson on the injured reserve-designated to return list. NFL teams can only do that with one player, which is a rule that was put in place earlier this year.
That player must remain out for a minimum of eight weeks, however. That means the earliest Benson could return to the lineup would be the December 9th game vs. the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field.
Meanwhile, the Packers have given Green every opportunity to be the main man at running back since Benson's injury. Green has had a number of touches, as he has had 74 rushing attempts since then and has caught nine passes.
The good news? Green hasn't fumbled. The bad news? He's had hardly any production, as Green has only rushed for 217 yards. That equates to a 2.9 yards per carry average.
The Packers also have Starks available, as it took several weeks for the third-year back to get over his turf toe injury. Still, Starks only has six rushing attempts the last three games. Expect that to increase, based on Green's lack of production.
Another option that the Packers may have utilized was second-year running back Brandon Saine. However, Saine tore his ACL in the Houston game and is out for the year.
That is why the Packers are looking at all their options before the trading deadline ends tomorrow. There is speculation that the Packers might be interested in one of two running backs—either Steven Jackson of the St. Louis Rams, or DeAngelo Williams of the Carolina Panthers.
However, there are some barriers which might preclude a trade with both backs. For one, both Jackson and Williams are already 29 years old. But then again, so is Benson.
There is also the compensation due each player. Jackson would still be due $3.7 million for just a half season's worth of work. Williams would be be due $2.8 million.
But the biggest issue in trading for each of these two running backs would be compensation. A couple of scouts told Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette that it would take at least a third-round draft pick to get Jackson.
The asking price might only be a fourth-round pick to get Williams, but that might end up being a third-round pick anyway, depending on how Williams would do in Green Bay.
So, will the Packers stand pat and let Green and Starks carry the load until Benson is ready to come back?
Up until 2012, that seemed to be the modus operandi of Thompson—as in, being very conservative with his front office tactics.
But that seems to have changed this year. Thompson traded up three times in the 2012 NFL draft, which equaled the amount that he had traded up in his entire tenure in Green Bay.
Thompson also signed a number of free agents this year, which again is 180 degrees from his normal behavior.
Bottom line, getting a back like Jackson or Williams would definitely be an upgrade over the options the Packers have at running back right now.
But will Thompson pull the trigger and give up a third-round pick on someone like Jackson, when he refused to do so in 2010 when Marshawn Lynch was available?
But that was before the Packers won Super Bowl XLV.
So what will Ted do? We will find out soon enough.
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