I am not a Ted Thompson apologist, nor am I a Thompson hater. I simply enjoy watching the Green Bay Packers every Sunday during football season (even in the preseason).
But Thompson's free agency strategy of "wait and see" is getting a little old.
When the decision was made to hire Dom Capers and the Packers switched from a 4-3 defense to something more like the Pittsburgh Steelers' 3-4, one thing seemed obvious: Free agents were going to have to be brought in to help with the transition.
Nearly a full month has passed, and the Pack have picked up one unrestricted free agent: offensive lineman Duke Preston. They also signed former Steelers safety Anthony Smith.
Apparently, two new men is all Thompson feels is necessary to change a team that is still built to play a 4-3 into a contender with a 3-4. And heck, apparently one of them can be on the offensive side of the ball.
Now, the tiny quantity of players signed isn't for a lack of trying on Teddy's part. He asked DE Chris Canty to come in for an interview, but was shunned by the player's agent because Thompson wouldn't dole out estimations on possible contracts without first speaking with the player.
The same issue came up when Thompson asked OLB Kevin Burnett to make a stop in Green Bay; he was again disregarded, told there was a "lack of interest" because he would not discuss terms over the phone.
Are those two missed opportunities going to make or break the Packers season in 2009?
Probably not, but it would have been nice to have two guys with experience in a 3-4 defense.
Currently, the Packers have one player with any experience at all in said scheme: Smith. He was cut as a cap casualty in Pittsburgh, but a Steelers defensive coordinator said that he could not grasp the defense at the time and had occasional mental lapses.
The biggest move the Packers have made since announcing the defensive conversion is the position move of Aaron Kampman, who will now be playing as a pass-rushing outside linebacker instead of defensive end. This was a smart move for the Pack because it will prove easier for Kampman to drop 10 pounds than add 20 pounds to stay on the line. Also, his abilities as a pass rusher would be wasted as an end in a 3-4 scheme.
When the free agent market opened, the Packers were rumored to be interested in bringing back former first-round pick Vonnie Holliday (who played in Capers' 3-4 in Miami) to facilitate the conversion, but those rumors were dismissed almost immediately.
Then a source close to Thompson said that the Packers were interested in DE Kevin Carter, who is three years older than Holliday and not as experienced in the new defense.
Neither of these guys should break the bank to sign, so why not, Ted? Why not?
Mr. Thompson, I hope that this draft class is able to have an immediate impact, because your lack of movement in the market has left this defense with more holes than a block of Swiss cheese.