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.