Green Bay Packers GM Ted Thompson Looks to Keep Band Together
Ted Thompson wants to keep things the same this offseason on how the Packers do business. On Friday at the NFL Scouting Combine, Thompson said, "We won't change anything. We kind of go about our business the way we do it."
His past Modus Operandi also leans toward keeping the team structured as closely to the 2010 Super Bowl champions as possible when it comes to the players on the 2011 53-man roster.
Of course, there will be tweaks, including the return of many of those that were relegated to IR.
The one problem the Packers have that almost every other team would enjoy is like that of any successful band. Those who feel they can succeed on their own or with a new band and reap in more "Green and Gold" without the Packers may go solo.
So in a sense, Thompson and Head Coach Mike McCarthy take on the role of band manager, like the affable yet sober Ruben Kincaid of the 1970s sitcom, "The Partridge Family".
Reuben, played by the late Dave Madden, kept the band together (with only a minor change) and their expenses low. Only those old enough to have watched the show will remember that the youngest Partridge, Chris, the drummer, was replaced after the first season. And Thompson will certainly look to enhance the sound with the best possible budget.
Question marks in keeping the beat steady are players like James Jones, Brandon Jackson, Nick Barnett and AJ Hawk.
One player who is more an exclamation than a question mark is Cullen Jenkins. With other teams seeking a quality player like Jenkins and the Packers ready for the emergence of young players like Mike Neal and C.J. Wilson, along with the potential return of suspended player Johnny Jolly, Jenkins is one member that the Packers would like to retain.
Not, however, at a price tag estimated around $12 million per year that he will most likely achieve as a free agent. Jenkins stated last week that he is resigned to the fact that he will be playing elsewhere this coming season.
The main players, of course, are certainly set. Aaron Rodgers is the front man, a la David Cassidy's portrayal of lead singer David Partridge. David struck the hearts of America with the hit "I Think I Love You", and Rodgers's outstanding play, leadership and "Belt" move have all of Packers nation singing those lyrics back to him.
The patriarch of the Packers team clearly became Charles Woodson. It's pretty hard to compare Charles to Shirley Jones's portrayal as the mother and keyboardist, but Woodson did become the figure that speaks as the head of the family, and his locker room speeches seemed to hit all of the right keys.
Now this antiquated and Dennis Miller-like comparison gets harder, since all the players act as the five Partridges. But I would be remiss if I did not make this obvious one.
The Lovely Susan Dey as Laurie Partridge on the guitar is simply and easily compared to one Packer. Yes, Clay....it's the hair. She a 70s Breck Girl with flowing locks, and you, the Suave Man of today.
She also did go blond when she later joined the cast of LA Law. Clay Matthews is the face and hair that fans and opposing offenses alike cannot take their eyes off of. Matthews also plays like a rock star. Enough said. (I won't be reaching in the back of the mailbox to see if Clay's Christmas card got stuck this year.)
A comparison to digress into the little sister that played the tambourine is even a stretch for me.
There is, however, a Bonaduce on the Packers, but nowhere near Charlie Sheen levels. No, it is not the potentially returning defensive end, Johnny Jolly. One could try to compare Johnny to Charlie because of his season-ending off the field antics of 2009, but he seems to have truly rehabbed and has never offered a profanity laced, public diatribe against Thompson ala Misuer Sheen to Chuck Lorre.
With Jenkins's probable departure, the welcome mat may be cautiously laid at Jolly's feet if he can prove that the only thing purple that he will be clutching are Vikings jerseys.
So back to Bonaduce.
Hello, Nick Barnett. Yes Nick, Danny did sport a "Rojo-fro" back in the Partridge days similar to some of your past tonsorial stylings. But more so, Barnett has always been a loud, self-promoter to the point of distraction, just like the young Partridge bassist.
Say what you want about Barnett, but he has played at a Pro Bowl level in the past, is a team player, and knows how to lay down the rhythm. Thompson's decision on Barnett will be based almost exclusively on his price tag and an embarrassment of riches at linebacker, not the "Picture-Gate" Twitter dust up two weeks before the Super Bowl.
So back to the Packers' drummers on the bubble.
First, James Jones. Jones has made incredible catches in the Packers' No. 3 and 4 wide receiver spots, but he has had more high-profile drops than the number of words that escaped Christina Aguilera's Super Bowl National Anthem.
Those drops were not only conspicuous, but with McCarthy stating that he will find a way to put more points on the board this year, Jones's drops (several that were clear touchdowns including one in the Super Bowl) may be a spot where the coach makes an improvement.
The question is if another team will query the Packers on a trade or acquisition of Jones when the Packers could move forward with Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson and a new receiver/return man and/or the serviceable Brett Swain? Jones could be the content and bow on a pretty package in an exchange.
While several players may be the "odd man out"; if the Packers can renegotiate with AJ Hawk, he certainly could be the "even man in". Hawk, who saw little time at the beginning of the season in Dom Capers's 3-4 defense and looked to be on his way out of Green Bay, proved a steady and vastly improved component as the season progressed.
With what should be a lower price tag than Barnett, who has been injury plagued, Hawk, who was always ready for duty, will be a good bet to keep the drums steady for the 2011 version of the band.
Thompson gets a veritable plethora of players back off of the IR list as well. Ryan Grant and Jermichael Finley will be back on a potent offense that may again draft for the offensive line. On defense, players like Mike Neal, Morgan Burnett, Brad Jones, Brandon Chillar, Brady Poppinga and Derrick Martin are also set to return.
So while the Partridges sought a fictional repeat of the Best Band "Grammy" under the direction of Kincaid, the Packers will seek to get a repeat "Vinny", the Vince Lombardi Trophy, under the direction of Thompson and McCarthy.
They are odds-on favorites. Packers fans, clamoring for the sweet music to continue, have made more room on the bandwagon with the invitation to "C'mon, Get Happy!"
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