Since 2005, when Thompson first took over in the Green Bay front office, the team has rarely dabbled in free agency. Thompson prefers to build his team through the draft. He will also sign a number of "street" free agents, but rarely will he sign players such as Charles Woodson and Ryan Pickett like he did in 2006.
When it comes to free agency, Thompson's first preference is to take care of the players on his own roster. That is why the Packers offered a second-round tender to restricted free-agent cornerback Sam Shields, and a low tender to restricted free-agent center Evan Dietrich-Smith.
The Packers did not offer any tenders to the other restricted free agents...tight end Tom Crabtree, linebacker Robert Francois and linebacker Frank Zombo. Crabtree ended up signing with the Tampa Bay Bucs, while the Packers were able to re-sign Francois. The Packers don't seem to be interested in Zombo at this point, due to his injury history.
The Packers also had a number of unrestricted free agents as well. This group included running back Cedric Benson, wide receiver Greg Jennings, linebacker Erik Walden and linebacker Brad Jones.
Walden quickly signed with the Indianapolis Colts, while Jennings signed with the Minnesota Vikings, after it appeared he might re-sign with the Pack for awhile. Jones did re-sign with the Packers last week, while the Packers are still mulling their options with Benson.
The Packers are currently around $15 million under the salary cap according to the Green Bay Press Gazette, and much of that was done through the strategy the Packers used with their restricted and unrestricted free-agents.
Plus, the Packers were able to save cap space by restructuring linebacker A.J. Hawk's contract, which cut his pay $7.25 million over three years, according to the Green Bay Press Gazette.
In addition, the Packers also re-did newly reinstated defensive lineman Johnny Jolly's deal to save some money.
The Packers are being very cautious with their salary cap because the team realizes that a sizable amount will go to quarterback Aaron Rodgers, when he signs his new deal, which could happen soon, according to ProFootballTalk.com.
The Packers also want to do new deals with outside linebacker Clay Matthews and defensive lineman B.J. Raji.
The Packers have not been completely mute in free agency, as the tender offers to Shields and Dietrich-Smith suggest, as well as the new deals with Jones and Francois.
They also brought in defensive end Chris Canty for a visit, before he signed with the Baltimore Ravens. The Packers also reportedly brought in running back Peyton Hillis, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, via Pro Football Talk.com.
So, what does this all mean to the depth chart of the Packers currently? Let's take a look.
The current depth chart at quarterback:
The only thing going at the quarterback position is the distinct possibility of a new deal for Aaron Rodgers. If the Packers do decide to add another quarterback, it will either be done by drafting one, or by signing an undrafted quarterback.
That will most likely be the case, as the Packers usually like to have four quarterbacks available for OTAs (organized team activities), minicamps and the early portion of training camp.
The current depth chart at running back:
The Packers were interesting in Steven Jackson in free agency, but not at the price he ended up getting with the Falcons. The Packers are also reportedly interested in Ahmad Bradshaw, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN, via ProFootballTalk.com.
Bottom line, don't expect the Packers to sign any running back in free agency. This would include Cedric Benson, who currently is an unrestricted free agent.
Expect the Packers to draft a running back fairly high in this year's draft to team with DuJuan Harris, who head coach Mike McCarthy will give an opportunity to start in 2013, based on the way Harris played down the stretch for the Packers in 2012.
The current depth chart at fullback:
Currently, John Kuhn is the only fullback on the roster for the Pack. The issue with Kuhn is his contract currently. According to spotrac, Kuhn will make over $2.5 million this year. That is why the Packers have been flirting with Peyton Hillis.
There is no doubt that Kuhn is sort of a folk hero in Green Bay now, but that might change if the Packers can get Hillis at a more reasonable price than's Kuhn's current deal. That would mean cutting Kuhn perhaps, or asking him to restructure his deal in 2013.
The current depth chart at tight end:
The Packers lost Tom Crabtree to free agency to the Tampa Bay Bucs. There has also been talk that starting tight end Jermichael Finley may have to restructure his deal this year, but so far that has not happened. It also looks like he will remain with the Packers at that price, according to NFL.com.
Don't expect any additions at tight end in free agency, either. The Packers may draft a tight end perhaps, but the Packers seem to be satisfied with the talent of the depth chart, especially if Finley stays with the Pack in 2013.
Update: According to report from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Monday, the Packers are uncomfortable with Finley's $8.25 million salary this year. In addition, Finley is due a $3 million bonus on Tuesday. Bottom line, Monday could be decision day for the Packers on whether or not Finley will remain on the team.
The current depth chart at wide receiver:
The Packers lost Greg Jennings to free agency, which was expected. What really hurt was that Jennings signed with the Vikings.
Don't expect the Packers to use free agency to get the replacement for Jennings, either.
Ted Thompson has used the draft for the most part to get the talent the Packers have at wide receiver. Four times, Thompson has drafted a receiver in the second round, and once in the third round.
Keep that in mind as you watch the 2013 NFL draft.
The depth chart for the offensive line:
Bryan Bulaga- tackle
T.J. Lang- guard/tackle
Evan Dietrich-Smith- center/guard
Josh Sitton- guard
Don Barclay- tackle/guard
Marshall Newhouse- tackle
Derek Sherrod- tackle
Andrew Datko- tackle
Greg Van Roten- guard/center
Garth Gerhart- center
Joe Gibbs- guard
Kevin Hughes- guard
The Packers sure have a lot of bodies on the depth chart for their offensive line. Whether there is some real talent there remains to be seen, especially for the reserves. The Packers hope that their two No. 1 draft picks from the recent past, Bryan Bulaga (hip) in 2010 and Derek Sherrod (leg) in 2011, will be able to play effectively for the team at tackle in 2013.
The only question the Packers have regarding free agency on their offensive line is the status of restricted free agent Evan Dietrich-Smith. The Packers gave Dietrich-Smith a low tender offer, which means any team can sign the current starting center for the Packers without giving up a draft pick to the Pack, since Dietrich-Smith wasn't drafted.
The Packers do have the right to match any offer, however.
Don't expect any signings in free agency for the offensive line. Expect Ted Thompson do to what he always does: add to the talent on the line through the draft.
The depth chart for the defensive line:
Except for the visit of Chris Canty, the Packers didn't really show interest in any defensive linemen in free agency. That may change as free agency continues and the price point of the players drops.
Ted Thompson signed three defensive linemen in free agency in 2012, but all were signed after the first wave of free agency.
For the most part, expect Thompson to add to the talent of the defensive line through the draft, and maybe in the next stages of free agency.
The depth chart for inside linebacker:
The Packers appear to be set at inside linebacker now, with the re-signing of Brad Jones, and the restructured deal for A.J. Hawk. The Packers also were able to re-sign Robert Francois, who is a big special-teams contributor.
The Packers hope to have back both Desmond Bishop (hamstring) and D.J. Smith (knee) in 2012, too.
The Packers also have high hopes for second-year linebacker Terrell Manning, who suffered through illness and injury issues his rookie year in 2012.
The Packers also like Jamari Lattimore, who like Francois, is a key piece on special teams.
The depth chart for outside linebacker:
At outside linebacker, expect the Packers to get a new deal done with Clay Matthews sooner, rather than later. Probably after the new deal with Aaron Rodgers is done. Rodgers and Matthews share the same agent...David Dunn.
Frank Zombo is a restricted free agent, but the Packers do not seem to be interested in bringing him back due to his cloudy injury history. When healthy, Zombo was pretty effective, but that rarely was the case.
The Packers also have high hopes for both Nick Perry and Dezman Moses, at the left outside linebacker opposite Matthews.
Expect the Packers to add to the depth at outside linebacker through the draft.
The depth chart at safety:
So far the Packers don't appear to be looking at any help at safety in free agency. The player the Packers released a while back...Charles Woodson...hasn't been able to find work yet in free agency, even after a visit to the San Francisco 49ers.
Once again, expect the Packers to use the draft to add to the quality depth at the safety position.
The depth chart at cornerback:
The big news in free agency for the Packers at the cornerback position, was the second-round tender offer to restricted free agent Sam Shields.
That means that the Packers will get a second-round pick if another team signs Shields and the Packers decide not to match the offer.
Meanwhile, the Packers will continue to add to the talent at the cornerback position either through the draft, or by the "street" free-agent method, which is how they acquired Tramon Williams in 2006.
The depth chart on special teams:
Mason Crosby - kicker
Tim Masthay - punter/holder
Brett Goode- long snapper
Randall Cobb- returner
Jeremy Ross- returner
Don't expect any major changes here. The Packers will probably bring in a kicker to compete with Mason Crosby in training camp, but that will most likely be either by the draft or by the "street" free-agent variety.
Jeremy Ross will be given another opportunity to take over the returning job from Randall Cobb in 2013, as Cobb will most likely focus on having another big year at the wide-receiver position, like he had in 2012.
Everything else looks good, as Masthay and Goode are among the best in the NFL at punter and long snapper, respectively.