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…
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.)