Poppinga given fat contract for mediocre play

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Read here from jsonline re Brady Poppinga just signing a contract extension for doing…nothing. Sorry, I don’t understand this. Poppinga was reportedly just signed to a contract extension, extending him through 2012 and giving him the same deal that other recently signed starting linebackers are getting ($17 million over 5 years).

This is surprising and it doesn’t make much sense. First of all, I don’t get the timing of it. The Packers called in Brandon Chillar to either replace or at least compete with Poppinga for Poppinga’s starting spot. So turning around and awarding an extension for starter’s money doesn’t make sense at this moment (unless they know and have known all along that he’ll be the starter). Why not wait until mid-season or late in the season to see if he finally contributes and if he does and if they think he will continue to progress, extend him at that time? To make this offer a year before his first contract is up seems to be a misguided priority. Secondly, and more importantly, Poppinga has not done much to date to deserve any sort of a new contract. He can’t create turnovers. Despite the staff calling him “physical” all the time, I haven’t seen anything special in the tackling department. And we all know he can’t cover a sloth. As Silverstein notes in the jsonline blog, Poppinga signed the contract right away – OF COURSE he’d do this because he knew he wouldn’t get this kind of offer anywhere else – even if he has a good year this year. But if he falters this season and Chillar bumps him out of the starting spot, we’re wasting money on someone who probably would have signed right now for half of what this contract was worth because he and most observers know he has thus far achieved little.

The other concern I have re this extension is precedent. Poppinga still has until 2009 on his original contract and re-working a contract still a year from expiration usually happens only when that player has significantly outperformed the existing contract. Poppinga has definitely not done this, so what might this say to other Packers? Be average in production and we’ll give you an extended, fat contract?!?. This signing also really makes me wonder why the Grant signing is taking so long – makes me almost think Grant must be asking for the moon as the Packers seem to be in a generous spirit right about now.

I hate to say it but this almost smacks of a Sherman-era “but I just like him and his attitude” signing. I initially had Ted Thompson pegged as a non-loyal, cold, tough-decision maker, but I wonder if he has his quiet loyalties after reading re this signing. (Though this case and others leave me suspicious of TT’s loyalty to his draft picks). If I were GM, I would have simply waited through a good part of this year at least before considering an extension for someone like Poppinga. Listen, I like Brady Poppinga as a person a lot, and I really like his attitude – and I’ll go so far as to say that despite ragging on him for the last few years, I do think he’s shown some signs of improvement and he may not end up being too bad this year. And, I even root for the guy when he plays. Still, it is just plain premature to sign a player like this to a longer term contract when the team felt compelled to spend money in free agency to bring in competition for his spot.

I think the negotiations probably went like this:

Packers: “Brady, we’d like to offer you a contract extension.”

Brady: “With all due respect sir, I haven’t done much here yet and I may not even be the start…

Packers: “How does $17 million…

Brady: “Deal”…

STEVE ADDS: Andy and I find a way to disagree on many things regarding Packer players and their relative importance.  For instance: I loved Ryan Grant because of what I’d seen him do in preseason in New York; Andy loved DeMond Parker and still thinks he should be starting.  Most of this has little to do with actual on-the-field talent and everything to do with Andy’s desire to challenge his older brother.

But he is 100 percent correct on this.  I don’t think the $17 million is bank-breaking money — and we’ll have to see what’s guaranteed, which is what really matters — but Brady Poppinga is a very good special teams player and should be paid like one.  I heard somewhere the other day (if it’s you, let us know and I’ll give proper credit) that Ted Thompson likes Poppinga because he sees Poppinga as the second coming of Ted Thompson.  (Thompson, however, managed to scrap his way through ten seasons in the NFL despite having not been drafted in an era when the draft went 427 rounds.)

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10 Responses to “Poppinga given fat contract for mediocre play”

  1. Aaron Says:

    You could not be more wrong on this one Andy… ;)

  2. Ron La Canne Says:

    I guess you have to make it look like your spending cap money. Poppinga is an ok LB but could easily be replaced. You want to extend someone? Extend Jenkins, Jones or how about this? Sign Grant!

  3. Aaron Says:

    Jenkins? Really? After they just extended him a year ago and then watched him have a completely pedestrian season? Poppinga was twice as good as Jenkins last year…

  4. Mac G Says:

    Jenkins is irrelevant in this conversation as they play different positions. I agree completely about Pops. He hardly makes any plays, solid tackler but nothing super special. Plus, I see no benefit to extending him at this junction at all.

    Oh, SIGN GRANT!

  5. Aaron Says:

    What don’t people get here? Is Poppinga Urlacher? Um, no. Is he worth 4.3 mil? Yes. He will never, and I mean never, see the full 17 mil being bandied about in media reports…

  6. Their Voices Were Heard » Brats & Beer Says:

    [...] expressed their approval of Brady Poppinga’s new contract extention. There were a few hecklers and some booing, but overall the crowd of 9,300 supported general manager Ted Thompson’s decision to give the [...]

  7. awhayes Says:

    Aaron – don’t understand your love for Poppinga. I’ve even come around to admit he’s no longer terrible, but the guy just doesn’t do much at all. To give him an extension now doesn’t make any sense especially when he may not even be the starter. Unless this contract is largely incentive-based, I’m not sure what they were thinking.

    (Now, there may be an outside chance that this was done in part because they are going to put him in a different, more high profile role this year. I’ve read about him doing more pass rushing and being sort of like a Mike Vrabel/Adalius Thomas type guy doing more blitzing and pass rushing. Still, I just think they should wait and see if he can deliver before locking him up).

    And Brats and Beer – TT probably would get an ovation for this signing from shareholders because many Packer fans just plain like Brady – like I do. But that doesn’t mean he’s good. Mike Sherman and many fans like Robert Ferguson, but the guy was just not good. If I were GM, I just would have waited.

  8. Aaron Says:

    Andy – Don’t misinterpret my approval of the extension for ‘love’ for Poppinga. He’s a great role player, and I expect his ‘role’ to expand this season. And again, at 4.3 guaranteed, that’s a good deal.

  9. RayMidge Says:

    The timing is very strange, but with the salary cap and collective bargaining rules, these types of contracts seem to be entirely favorable to the team. If he performs to the contract or outperforms the contract, the team keeps him; if he doesn’t they cut him and lose absolutely nothing but the guaranteed money. While Poppinga may not be a world beater, presumably MM and TT feel he fits their system and at the least provides solid depth and outstanidng special teams. This is the philosophy the management has been pursuing since TT got here. This particular move is puzzling, but I like the overall approach and the use of the cap money they have to keep guys they feel fit in already and not chase other teams’ FA’s except in rare situations.

    Oh and sign Grant!!

  10. Cheesehead TV » Post Topic » If Poppinga Is Cut… Says:

    [...] know many fans (and Bloggers) were critical of Poppinga’s extension last offseason. I understood it from a rewarding a [...]

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