March 4, 2008

Packers in pursuit of LB Chillar, FB/TE Wilson

Category: Packers — Patrick Stumpf @ 11:20 pm

Via Rotoworld:
*Free agent LB Brandon Chillar has a Tuesday visit scheduled in Green Bay. Chillar arrived in Arizona last night to meet with the Cardinals, who’d use him inside in their 3-4. He’d push to start on the strong side for the Pack.

*The Packers have expressed a “strong interest” in free agent FB/TE Kris Wilson, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Wilson is an H-back with pass catching ability, but doesn’t do much else well. He’d likely help back up TE Donald Lee and FB Korey Hall in Green Bay.
 
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Also wanted to pass along that Al Davis and the crazy ship he’s running in Oakland continued their free-agent binge, signing Ex-Packer Javon Walker to a 6-year, $55 million deal. Have fun with that one, Mr. Davis. 

I understand it’s obviously a bit of a sad day for Packer Nation. Favre has been the only quarterback I’ve ever known. It will be sad to see him go, but to be honest, I’m also very excited to monitor Aaron Rodgers’ progression. Judging off the Dallas game, in a pressure-packed environment, he performed at a very high level that ought to be intriguing. It should also be interesting to see where Ted goes as far as the market goes for a backup.

March 3, 2008

As fevery continues, Thompson hunts in bargain bin

Category: NFL General,Packers — Patrick Stumpf @ 11:20 pm

Four days in and NFL Free-Agency is hotter than ever. But Ted Thompson’s plan hasn’t changed since the moment he got here. And fans should have no complaints about what they are seeing so far this year. The fact of the matter is 1) this team was 13-3 last year, 2) was one game away from playing in a Super Bowl, and 3) is returning every core player for 2008.  So why the whining? What reason justifies Ted delving into free-agency to make headlines just because he can? It seems unfortunate I have to give this same speech every year, but the attitudes of the green and gold faithful haven’t changed I guess. It’s good that they’re passionate.  But look, we all know that after the initial wave of supposedly “superior” crop is plucked off the heap, solid talent remains to be had, and for a fortune less. And really when you look at it, the numbers between a elite first tier guy and middle second tier guy aren’t all that drastic. To be honest, I have no idea what some teams are thinking. The Raiders. Re-signing DE Tommy Kelly to a seven-year, close to $51 million deal- all for a guy who played a mere seven games last year. Wow. After that deal, Teddy looks like a genius once again for getting Kampman at four for $21 million. Guess what? Ex-Cardinal LB Calvin Pace just got 6 years, $42 million from the Jets. Now anyone care to tell me who that is? When it comes down to it, is Pace really going to outperform Niko Koutouvides, who signed a three-year deal for probably $30 million less? Probably. But are those extra 20, 30, 40 extra tackles worth all that money? Is it worth investing money into a player who has only churned out one good statistical season? I say no. Ted Thompson can and will wait for his chance, believe me. He might not make a big splash, but please, don’t judge prematurely. Wait until after the guy has played out his deal. That’s all I ask.

Rumor Mill: The Packers have apparently contacted former Lions’ LB Boss Bailey’s agent. Exciting stuff (sigh). At 28 years old, Bailey has been a boom or bust guy with injury-problems in his career, hardly the kind of guy I would want to sign in this outrageous market. I’d much rather prefer, LB Brandon Chillar, who was supposed to meet with Arizona either today or tomorrow. The Cardinals have been said to be hot on this guy’s heels, so I’d be shocked if he got to visit Green Bay. The Packers are set to meet with LB/DE tweener Corey Smith tomorrow, and may offer him a contract to be a special teams guy. One guy I still like out there is Colts’ OG Jake Scott. He surprisingly hasn’t drawn much interest up to this point, and would certainly look good in a Green Bay uniform.

March 1, 2008

Early mock: Packers could look to line first

Category: Packers — Patrick Stumpf @ 11:36 pm

As you may or may not know, the 2008 NFL Draft is deep in the very areas the Packers are looking to improve. With the Packers holding their first pick at #30, I think it’s very possible they will trade down, as secondary, offensive and defensive line, running back, and tight-ends are all strong suit in this draft.  The reason is this: Ted Thompson has always made a living off of accumulating picks, and this year, one shouldn’t expect anything different.  In a very low position in the opening round, I think it would be particularly beneficial to the team to trade #30 to a team who has a high pick in the second, perhaps for their second and third.  This would give the Thompson six picks to work with on Day 1, plenty to improve the need areas.  Trade aside, here’s my early estimate of what one could see on the draft weekend:

1st round- Gosder Cherilus- OT- Boston College. Huge 6’7 tackle in Jeff Jagodzinski’s zone-blocking offensive to replace the aging Tauscher/Clifton, and protect Aaron Rodgers for years to come.

2nd round (from CLE)- Tracy Porter- CB- Indiana. A solid corner who racked up 16 INTs in his 4-year career, Porter reminds me of a poor-man’s Charles Woodson with his returning skills. He’s needs to bulk up however.

2nd round- Tavares Gooden- OLB- Miami (Fla). Perfect fit to give Brady Poppinga some competition. He goes here because he is the best player available.

3rd round- Josh Johnson- QB- San Diego. A high riser with great upside. I feel Ted will bring in one QB here and one via free-agency.

4th round- Jermichael Finley- TE- Texas. Gives A-Rodge a big target at 6’5. He was enamored with the Packers at the Combine, so he gets his wish.

5th round- Adarius Bowman- WR- Oklahoma St. Doesn’t have the great speed, but does have decent size.

5th round (proj. comp)-  Chad Rinehart- OG- Northern Iowa. Small school prospect who has some versatility.

7th round- Xavier Omon- RB- NW Missouri St. Another small school guy, but has great size (228 lbs) and could project as a change of pace back for Ryan Grant.

Comments on my first Mock Draft of 2008 are appreciated!

February 27, 2008

If Williams signs offer sheet, Pack should back off

Category: Packers — Patrick Stumpf @ 9:56 pm

When the Packers’ front-office designated defensive tackle Corey Williams as their “franchise player” back on the 20th, they no doubt intended to buy themselves time to negotiate a long-term deal with the big man. If the two sides choose not to barter (I would be shocked if they didn’t) Williams would be guaranteed at least a one-year deal, in which he will earn $6.4 million with his non-exclusive tag. However, that doesn’t mean other teams won’t have the opportunity to pursue him. Starting this Friday, if a team feels Corey is a rightfully deserving of his status as a franchise player, they can make their pitch. The catch is the Packers would have the option of matching any contract thrown at him. But if I was in Ted Thompson’s shoes, and a team decided Williams was their guy, I wouldn’t touch him. OK, you may think I’m crazy, but think about it. First of all, the Packers are in excess of 20 million dollars under the cap; that’s enough green bills to sign ample backup for Johnny Jolly, Ryan Pickett, and Justin Harrell if need be. Secondly, the free agent and draft crop is strong enough to do just that. Orpheus Roye, Brian Young, and Tommy Kelly highlight the group of DTs which the Packers should be able to get for cheaper than Williams, and the D-Line crop in this year’s draft is the strongest it has been in recent memory. Thirdly, if the Packers walked on Williams, they would receive compensation: two first rounders. And you know how much TT loves his picks. My gut tells me if Thompson can bargain a reasonable price, he will offer Corey an extension. But with the inflation of the present-day market, nothing would surprise me.  

*UPDATE: Just saw this on my side widget that the team will seek a 2nd rounder.  It’s no first, but even a second rounder would be valuable with the depth the 2008 Draft
holds, especially at corner, running back, and offensive and defensive line- all areas the Packers need to bolster.
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2/28- 11:02 PM: Reports coming from NFL Network Corey will be dealt to Cleveland for their 2nd round draft (#56 overall).  This shows TT’s brilliance. By tagging Williams, who the team would no doubt have lost, they get a second rounder. Just to put this in prospective, Williams was a 5th rounder.  The extra pick allows Thompson to trade up in the first round he if so chooses, or hang on to third picks in the top 60. 

January 28, 2008

It's time for Rodgers to lose the clipboard and play

Category: Packers — Patrick Stumpf @ 6:11 pm

As Aaron Rodgers embarks on his third off-season as a pro, leading up to his fourth full-year, I can visualize the Cal-product questioning whether he will ever a get a chance to take the reign’s as a starting quarterback. Under normal circumstances, on almost any other team, Rodgers would have been taking first-team reps by now. No way he ever expected those first six hours in the draft room to feel as short as the four years he’s had to endure holding the clipboard, huh? So one begs the question, has he matured enough? After Carson Palmer was drafted by the Bengals, fans and the media alike predicted a short leash for the once incompetent Jon Kitna. And they guessed right. And though the state of Wisconsin will never succumb to slurping their Brett Favre kool-aid, I feel it’s time for the legend to hang up the cleats once and for all. He’s got all the records, his Super Bowl, and he didn’t walk off with another trophy, but nonetheless, he’s considered a first-ballot Hall of Famer, and would be elected in 2013. Aaron deserves his shot, and if Brett calls for that press-conference launching him to immortality, I will be the happiest Packer fan on the planet. Not that I don’t like Brett, I love the guy, but after living 17 years watching your favorite team have only one gunslinger behind center, you begin a chronic habit of highlighting the negatives, instead of treasuring his rocket balls or shovel passes. Let the youth movement begin!

January 21, 2008

The Green (and Gold) Mile: Pack defies expectations

Category: Packers — Patrick Stumpf @ 6:14 pm

Remember in the late stages of training camp, when a haze of uncertainty surrounded the upcoming year?  After a deja-vu 4-8 start in 2006, they showed us reasons for optimism after taking the final four.  All that seemed to hit rock bottom in the off-season.  Drafting a defensive lineman with a torn bicep, spurning the opportunity to get a superstar, even our star quarterback was livid.  Remember?  Then the season started, and this makeshift, inexperienced squad began to win.  Gained confidence.  This team with an average age of 26 years and 96 days wore pride on their sleeves week in and week out.  “Maybe we have a chance, after all,” said the pessimistic blubberers who once begged for a certain Randy Moss.  Sure, he’s done fine in New England, but I’ll take our own trio, making a fortune less, giving it all they’ve got.  And now, after finishing off a magical 14-4 run, it’s deemed a disappointment?  I’m sure after the first few weeks whizzed by, even St. Vince believed 14-4 to be a heresy.  The bottom line is, we’ve got a lot to be proud of.  This team overcame every form of adversity, and sure, we all dreamed of Brett going down in a blaze of glory, carrying the Lombardi trophy back home, but it just wasn’t meant to be.  However, the youngest team in the NFL has only scrapped the surface, and with the core in tact for several more years, let’s watch them prosper, enjoy it, and wait for our turn. It will come.

January 18, 2008

Corner laden-draft should merit multiple picks

Category: Packers — Patrick Stumpf @ 10:34 pm

While the Packers plow ahead in their pursuit of a title, some, like myself, are enamored by the team’s standing in the upcoming NFL Draft.  The draft always seems to be one of the highlights of my year, on which I designate my entire day to vegging out in front on the tube, soaking in as my knowledge on the selections as I can.  It’s always nice to get a leg up, and unlike this year, I’ve had time to dig up information on the Packers possible selections.  With the young Packers basically set at every position for the future, including running back after the surprising emergence of Ryan Grant, only one position jumps out to me.  It’s not an immediate need, but most can see that it will need some addressing in the coming years.  As I sift through the credible mock sources out there (NFL Draft Countdown and WalterFootball are two of the best), I see the same recurring theme for the Packers 1st rounder: Antoine Cason, CB, Arizona. Reggie Smith, DB, Oklahoma. Leodis McKelvin, CB, Troy. Aqib Talib, CB, Kansas. (And my personal favorite) Jack Ikegwuonu, CB, Wisconsin. OK, I think we’ve established the Packers need a few fresh corners. Now for the hard part: who to take? All I know is I’m glad it’s not up to me, because if it was, I’d say go with the Wisconsinite and say the heck with it! I’ll leave it to the Draft Guru himself, Mr. Ted Thompson, who recently signed a 5-year extension I might add.  One thing I do know, Ted likes to focus his draft on the best players available, so with 9-10 quality corners and safeties, don’t be surprised if the top couple selections shore up the aging secondary. Hopefully with Ted’s genius and a little luck, the Packers will be sitting pretty with some new blood chomping at the bit to play in 2009 and beyond. 

January 15, 2008

Packers' play peaking at ideal time, in snow or not

Category: Packers — Patrick Stumpf @ 4:56 pm

One down.  Two to go.  The ultimate goal is still attainable.  And the best part about it, although clique: the best is yet to come.  The Packers did their job, storming back to beat the Seahawks within the snowy confines of Lambeau, 42-20, and with the New York Giants pulling the upset against the Cowboys, the team has got to feel good returning home for a chance to head to Arizona.  Yes, they have been granted alot of luck, they are also good.  Very good.  This team is peaking in all areas, and once again, if they play up to the level they are capable of, another victory should be in store this coming Sunday.  Not because the Giants aren’t as good of a team as the Seahawks, I think they are better and have been on a roll the past weeks of the regular season through the playoffs.  The key I see in this game is which team is deeper, because when you get to the NFC and AFC Championship games, some starters may be missing, and it’s the role of the backups to step it up in their absence.  Whichever team’s reserve players prevail will be a major factor, especially considering the Giants will be without All-Pro tight-end Jeremy Shockey, as well as starting corner Sam Madison and nickel back Kevin Dockery.  And remember, Plaxico Burress, who has also been nursing his ankle and knee, was competely non-existent in Dallas, catching one pass for 5 yards.  He should be shutout again facing the Woodson/Harris tandem.  The main concern for the Packers should be bruiser Brandon Jacobs and his 6’4, 260 pound frame.  They will need to stack the box and control the tempo, just as they did to Shaun Alexander and Seattle last week.  I have no doubt in my mind they won’t be ready to accept that challenge.  The unsung heroes of last week’s game was the offensive line, who helped spring Ryan Grant to better than 200 yards rushing, a Packer postseason record.  And you don’t think Grant will be looking to go all out this week against his former team?  Once again, the only way I see the Giants pulling the upset is by disrupting Favre, but with the way this team is playing behind the home crowd, I just don’t see it.  Ice Bowl II (it’s forecasted to be in the low-teens Sunday) should be fun, just not for Giants fans 1,000 miles away.

January 5, 2008

Sharp Packers eye first obstacle; a familiar foe

Category: Packers — Patrick Stumpf @ 10:21 pm

For the second time in five years, the Packers will face the Seattle Seahawks in a playoff showdown at Lambeau Field.  In 2003, a game which every Seahawk fan will remember like Packer fans remember 4th & 26, Matt Hasselback rather over-confidently told the referee at the overtime coin toss, “We want the ball, and we’re going to score.”  Be careful what you wish for Matt, for little did he know, his boisterous comment was heard by the entire fan-base, fueling the fire on the Packer sideline.  And right on cue, Al Harris picked off a Hasselback telegraph, and returned it 52 yards giving the Packers the dramatic 33-27 victory.  But that was then, this is now.  The Pack will have one final week to get healthy and strategize for their next opponent, those same Seahawks.  After a rather non-convincing 35-14 decision over the late-surging Washington Redskins, the Seahawks will make the long trek to Green Bay hoping to prove their worthiness amongst the NFC elite.  After viewing the Seahawks multiple times this season, myself and many others have surely concluded one thing: the Seahawks of 2007 are drastically different than those of year’s past, with 2005 MVP Shaun Alexander virtually non-existent the entire campaign.  And that fact could not have been more evident than today, with Alexander rushing a mere 15 times for 46 yards, a rather porous 3 yard average.  The focus has been simple–an all out aerial assault– but you can bet your bottom dollar the Packers will be ready.   What made the Seahawk win even less impressive was the fact 12 of their points were scored on interception returns, not gifted to them by starter Jason Campbell, but 36-year old Todd Collins.  If the Packers’ defense can eliminate their opposition’s running attack, limit their passing game, and Brett Favre doesn’t try to do too much, the rest should take care of itself, and the Packers will be playing for a shot at the Super Bowl for the first time since ’97. 

January 3, 2008

Javon's plea to return holds no substance, sincerity

Category: Packers — Patrick Stumpf @ 4:26 pm

Message to Javon Walker: you had your chance at stardom.  Brett Favre allowed you to blossom into the talented receiver you once were, whether you may deny that fact or not.  Now that you’ve moved on the Denver, don’t come crying back to us Cheeseheads, because you won’t feel any remorse, unless you change your attitude, quickly.  Brett was trying to straighten you up, instead, you demanded more money and a trade.  And you got what you wanted.  Don’t be the fair-weather fan a year later, thinking you will be able to ride up in your fancy car and be instantly embraced by the Packer faithful.  I hate to break it to you Javon, but not only do Packer fans not want you back, but the team doesn’t need you.  Just like they didn’t need Randy Moss.  You have already turned into a cancer in Denver, just as you were in Green Bay, and although Randy hasn’t lost it yet, once the Pats start to crack, things will increasingly roll downhill.  On top of all that, the Packer receiving corp has been better off without you.  Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, heck even James Jones have shown more leadership this season than you ever have.  You must work on changing your outlook on life, rather than just getting a paycheck every week.  Look at the big picture, the bottom line: do you play this game to make millions, or to win Super Bowls?  I’m beginning to think you’re finally straightening out your priorities, unfortunately, you’ve already worn out your welcome.  You’re an extremely gifted receiver, blessed with more talent than most, but you need to show more passion for the game, more compassion for your teammates, and knock down your ego to help regain the trust of others you’ve undoubtedly lost.