It's safe to say there were plenty of Green Bay Packers fans who were a bit frustrated last week as both Greg Jennings and Steven Jackson were allowed to sign elsewhere. It appeared both players could be Packers in 2013 before all was said and done.
In the end, Green Bay lost out on both. But believe it or not, in both cases the Packers made the right decision.
Yes it stings to lose Jennings to a division rival but he was a luxury this team can't afford and doesn't need. The Packers already have three high-quality receivers in James Jones, Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, not to mention a very talented tight end in Jermichael Finley. Aaron Rodgers and the offense were fine without him in 2012 and will be again.
Don't get me wrong, Jennings is still a good player. But let's face facts. He will be 30 years old when the season starts and has missed 11 of his last 22 games due to injury. Is that really the kind of player you'd feel good about investing over $9 million a year in? No it's not.
Minnesota had to do it. Green Bay had the luxury not to and absolutely was right to let Jennings walk, no matter how difficult it was.
The Steven Jackson saga had a similar ending.
It seemed that early on in free agency the Packers were very interested in Jackson and were in the lead to sign him, but it seems those reports were overblown. Yet, at one point, Adam Schefter tweeted that the two sides had come to an agreement, only to delete it just minutes later, lending truth to those early reports. But at the end of the day, the Packers weren't going to meet Jackson's price, which wound up being a three-year deal worth $12 million with Atlanta.
It doesn't sound like a lot of money, but investing $4 million guaranteed in a 30-year-old running back who has carried the ball more than 250 times in eight straight seasons is a risky proposition–one the Packers weren't going to take.
As durable as he's been, Jackson could break down at anytime and the Packers, (who have cap space, but not a lot of money to spend due to contract extensions coming up for Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews and B.J. Raji), weren't willing to throw that kind of money his way.
Now comes the news that the Packers have expressed interest in former New York Giants running back, Ahmad Bradshaw, a 27-year old running back, who was released earlier this offseason. The question is if the Packers are genuinely interested, or if they are just doing their due diligence.
If their interest is genuine it should be because Bradshaw would be perfect for the Packers. For starters, he'd come cheap. He's been a starter in New York for the past three seasons, but has constantly been hampered by injury. Still, he has managed to play in 42 of 48 possible games over the past three seasons, starting 32 of them.
However, those same injury issues will prevent him from getting a big contract. Jackson and Reggie Bush, the best backs on the market, only garnered $4 million a year. How much can Bradshaw really command? Especially when there are still backs like Michael Turner on the market getting no interest?
The longer Bradshaw waits the more his value decreases. For instance, if Green Bay drafts a running back early on in the draft, think they'll still be kicking the tires on Bradshaw? I'd say no, meaning from a negotiating perspective, Bradshaw has little leverage. The Steelers are also reportedly interested, but they aren't breaking the bank for a free agent anymore than Green Bay would.
That's why this is a great chance for the Packers to acquire a starting caliber running back at a bargain basement price.
At this point in the process, Bradshaw will be lucky to get a deal that's more than one-year. In fact his best option may be a one-year prove it deal, which would give him a chance to put together a great season, while positioning himself to cash in next offseason.
That scenario is perfect for the Packers. They would get a guy that has rushed for over 1,000 yards in two of the last three seasons and averaged 4.6 yards per carry in 2012, without having to bear much risk or investment. Sure, his talent level may not be that of Jackson's, but he's got toughness and a burst, two things needed in the Green Bay backfield.
Bradshaw will not be the future for the Packers at the running back position, but he could be their starter in 2013. It's likely he could be had with a fair one-year deal that has some incentives, so it could reach around $3 million next season, while giving him little guaranteed money. That's where the market is at this point and the Packers need to take advantage of it.
Signing Bradshaw would make the team better in the short-term, while not risking much financially in the long-term. It would also alleviate any pressure to select a running back early in the 2013 NFL Draft. Best of all it would give Green Bay a legit back to take pressure of QB Aaron Rodgers, because he could finally make defenses pay for only having seven defenders in the box.
Signing Bradshaw is a no-brainer and it makes perfect sense for the Packers. Now we just have to hope GM Ted Thompson realizes that.
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