I think TT relies too much on the draft. He needs to consider modifying his approach somewhat to include more free agent acquisitions. TT hasn’t totally ignored free agency as some contend and obtaining players via the draft is an important part of building and maintaining a quality team no doubt. But I think he is a bit off-balance w/re to his approach and free agency needs more attention this off-season. It’s interesting because when you look back at TT’s history of acquiring free agents, it makes a compelling argument for doing it more often. It could even be said that the percentage chance that a free agent will perform well for the Packers is greater than the percentage chance a draft pick will. Consider Charles Woodson, Ryan Pickett, Atari Bigby (sort of), Chillar, Tramon Williams, Ryan Grant. (Al Harris wasn’t a TT acquisition, but he’s been a great free agent pick-up).
But my concern is that TT will not look into free agency much and that the Packers will continue to be a losing team under his watch, using his philosophy. We’re 32-34 under TT . While I give him a bit of leeway for 2005 when Sherman was still around, and I understand implementing a new philosophy takes some time, the fact is that this team has only made the playoffs once in his 4 years – and this is in stark contrast to the success the team enjoyed prior to his arrival. Read below from a Tom Silverstein article this morning quoting TT – this is why I don’t think he will change much of anything this off-season (thanks to reader Scott W for bringing this to my attention):
“We’re going to try to improve this team like we always do,” Thompson said. “People talk about free agency, draft. We’ll use whatever avenues we can to try to improve this team. But again, I’m still going to preach the thing we’ve always preached: The best way to get better, the most consistent way to get better, is to improve from within.”
TT, please take a look at some quality free agents out there. You’ve done nicely to give us the cap room we enjoy and I’ll even say tentatively that you’ve built a good nucleus of young players. But we’re not winning. So modify your approach. Complement these young guys now with some quality veterans. Other teams have done this more than we have recently and have enjoyed more success (the Patriots for example). Consider the fact that veteran leadership has value and that players who have already played in the NFL at a high level are more likely to contribute immediately than drafted rookies.