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The B.J. Blues

The B.J. Blues

gregc

 

Who (if anyone) is to blame for the absence of our top draft pick at training camp?

 

 

 

 

For the most part, Training Camp 2009 is off to a good start for the Packers. We all know who the quarterback is, the 3-4 defense looks like it will be a lot of fun to watch, and thus far none of our key players (knock on wood) have suffered serious injuries. The one big exception to all of this good feeling—the 340-pound fly in the ointment—is first-round pick (#9 overall) B.J. Raji, who remains unsigned.

One of the frustrating things about this situation is that it’s hard to find any one person to blame. But that doesn’t mean we can’t try. Here’s a rundown of the key suspects:

B.J. Raji: Before training camp, Raji said that he intended to report on time. Some fans have given him grief for failing to keep his word, but at the time he said this, Raji had no way of knowing that he would get stuck in the middle of a logjam, with players on either side of him unsigned and a couple of unusual situations that have led to an uncertain market. (More on that below.) Also, it’s hard to blame Raji when we don’t know how much money he is demanding. When he said that he intended to report to camp on time, we can assume that he didn’t mean he would sign any contract that was offered to him.

David Dunn (B.J.’s agent): Blaming an agent for being greedy is like blaming a shark for being hungry. But we don’t even know if Dunn is being greedy. It is an agent’s job to get a market-level (or above) deal for his client, and the market hasn’t been set yet. To his credit, Dunn has refrained from negotiating in the media or making negative comments. He’s kept such a low profile, in fact, that I wasted ten minutes on Google trying to find his name.

Ted Thompson: The same rule applies to Ted as it does to B.J. and his agent: We don’t know how much he is offering, so he can’t be blamed for excessive stubbornness. We do know that Ted has a history of lowballing people (Bubba Franks, Ryan Grant), which has tended to backfire on him, but we don’t know if that’s the case here.

The NFL: Now we’re getting somewhere. NFL rookies who are picked near the top of the first round receive ridiculous salaries. There needs to be a rookie salary scale to distribute more of that money to veteran players, who deserve it, and get the rookies in to camp on time. The good news is that the NFL is one of the better-run sports leagues, so there’s a chance that this problem could get fixed in the next collective bargaining agreement.

Al Davis: Davis's Raiders are so inept that their badness is beginning to affect other teams. By signing Darrius Heyward-Bey to a contract that was 20% higher than the contract of last year’s #7 overall pick, the Raiders threw the market into chaos for those teams who drafted immediately after them. It should be noted that the Raiders received an assist in their badness from the New York Jets, who signed QB Mark Sanchez, the #5 overall pick, to a deal that was well above the previous market value for that pick.

Michael Crabtree: The #10 overall pick is getting an early start on divahood, demanding to be paid as if he had been picked at least five spots higher than he was. It must be fun to live in a pretend universe, and Crabtree will have plenty of time for pretending if he makes good on his implied threat to sit out the entire season. Meanwhile, Raji’s agent is hesitant to negotiate a contract with the Packers, knowing that his reputation will take a major hit if the player taken one spot behind his guy gets a much larger contract.

The Jacksonville Jaguars: Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has explained how the Jacksonville Jaguars may hold the key to getting Raji signed—and that may not be a good thing. The Jags took OT Eugene Monroe at #8 overall, one spot ahead of Raji, and they are a cash-strapped organization that will be reluctant to follow the Raiders’ free-spending ways. Last year the Jags picked in the exact same spot, and their player was the last NFL pick to be signed—33 days into training camp. No doubt Ted Thompson is hoping for a lower amount for Monroe, which would give the Packers much more bargaining power. So maybe we should just settle into a nice comfy chair to wait this thing out.

This is a case where the blame game doesn’t do us a lot of good. It’s easy to say that these guys just need to get something done, but there are millions of dollars at stake here for both sides. And unfortunately, the market does not have the same priorities as the fans. At this point, the damage to Raji’s stock as a player is accumulating only gradually. In another week or two, the damage will accelerate, as Raji will most likely fall far enough behind his teammates to lose his starting job, and any further delay will directly affect how soon he can be ready to make an impact on the field. It’s a shame. He seems like a good kid. Sometimes there are no heroes and no villains. Just a lot of frustrated people, and that includes us.

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Comments (16)

IronMan's picture

I keep hearing people talking about the draftees having "market value"

How can someone have market value when they are in negotiations with only one team?

Market value is the price at which an asset would trade in a competitive setting. If Raji was a free agent, then yeah, we can talk about market value. But he is not on the market.

Having the draft order solely decide how much draft picks get paid, makes as much sense as paying them according to their Madden rating. If I were a GM, I couldn't care less how much Crabtree gets paid. That has nothing to do with how much Raji is worth to the Packers. Nothing.

Owners/GMs need to finally take a stance here. Let them sit out the year and re-enter the draft. Lets see how that works out for them.

Max's picture

It's so frustrating that the NFL hasn't stepped in and stopped this unwritten rule on descending salary amounts. It only takes one dumb team (in this case, as you say, the Raiders) to throw a big old spanner in the works and have everything grind to a halt.

What really gets me is the fact we're now down two DE's in Jolly and Harrell with no indication of their return. Gotta hope we get some talent coming through in Toribio or Montgomery.

Asshalo's picture

"What really gets me is the fact we’re now down two DE’s in Jolly and Harrell with no indication of their return. "

VONNIE!

IronMan's picture

GMs need to get away from this practice.

Just because team A over pays their draft choice, doesn't mean team B needs to. This is NOT free agency.

It is a lazy way of determining value.

Asshalo's picture

"GMs need to get away from this practice.

Just because team A over pays their draft choice, doesn’t mean team B needs to. This is NOT free agency.

It is a lazy way of determining value."

It really has nothing to do with the GMs and everything to do with the agent's arguing points-- something that can be solved with regulation by the league (after it's watered down when the player's association complains).

Asshalo's picture

"Raji, the ninth overall pick, is believed to be headed to Boston to workout at Boston College, where he played from 2004-'08."
~Bedard

There's a number of things you can take from that. He's committed to staying sharp...and he's not expecting to be in camp for a while. I sort of wish he would have done this over a week ago.

Yes, rookie contracts need to be fixed but you can't tell me thompson doesn't deserve some of the blame.

Franklin Hillside's picture

A lotta ins, lotta outs, lotta what-have-yous.

Greg C.'s picture

Good point about "market value," Iron Man. You are right that technically that has nothing to do with this. But I guess there has to be some kind of guideline, and "market value" is the shorthand term that is used for paying according to the draft slot. In the current system, or lack of system, that's the best anyone can come up with.

I guess the responses here show why this is such a difficult situation. Iron Man is willing to let Raji sit out the season, while Asshalo says that Ted Thompson deserves some of the blame, which implies that he needs to pony up some unspecified amount of dough to get Raji into camp.

All I can say is that an effective system needs to be put into place, but that doesn't do us any good right now.

MrBacon's picture

The only good news, the Defensive Line isn't like Wide Receiver or Quarterback. The main priorites are learning how to swim and shove, improve snapping your hands off the ground, and of coarse learn how to jump the snap by following the QB cadence but at the same dont draw a offsides.

This case, he can miss 2 pre-season games, and we would still be fine now if we had picked up Crabcakes, that would be a different story.

Asshalo's picture

As long as he's conditioned enough to play in the first preseason game I am fine.

wgbeethree's picture

I agree with MrBacon. Now I know a 3-4 defense in the NFL is a little more complicated than this for a defensive lineman but you really could get away with having whoever is next to him say either ''Rush the QB'', ''Eat up blocks'', or ''Take a step back and wave your arms'' before each play. Now that's clearly not ideal but in a worst case scenario that's about the extent of the defense that he REALLY needs to know in order to at least help fill in on the line rotation.

I'd definitely prefer he be in camp on time but if I had to say the one position in the NFL that you could just plug someone in and let him play without ''knowing'' the system it would be by far and away the 3-4 defensive lineman.

Greg C.'s picture

I agree with MrBacon as well. Although Cullen Jenkins has said that the 3-4 is more complicated for D-linemen than the 4-3, I think it's mostly a matter of getting into football shape and honing techniques. That's why I think Raji needs about two weeks before the regular season to get up to speed.

PackersRS's picture

If he plays well, everything is forgiven. Playing well being starting and being effective. But definitely not the way things should've started.
-
But in other light, if he doesn't play a lot, and Pickett plays well, he could very well be re-signed. They'll not make the same mistake they did with Corey Williams and Harrell... That, combined with the absence of Cullen Jenkins, was main reason why we went 6-10. No pressure on the qb mean DC needs to adjust. Then incompetent DC means weak D, and so on and so forth... Had we not traded Williams and had Jenkins been healthy, Sanders could still be our DC...

Jeremiah's Johnson's picture

Face it. Ted Thompson blows...

Is that the excuse already this year when the Packers finish below .500..??

(I can hear it now...It's not AROD's fault....we had injuries...jeesh!)

Asshalo's picture

We play the lions twice, cinci, the browns and the nfc west. If they go below .500 let the firing begin-- no likely though

MrBacon's picture

Without Ted Thompson = No Greg Jennings

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