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Cory's Corner: Ted Thompson is enigmatic

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Cory's Corner: Ted Thompson is enigmatic

None of us should be surprised at what didn’t happen when free agency kicked off on Thursday afternoon.

Packers general manager Ted Thompson has used the free agency period to sit on his hands and aside from signing outside linebacker Nick Perry to a hefty $12 million deal that is conveniently backloaded, the phones at 1265 Lombardi Ave. remained silent.

And then the news got worse. On Friday morning, news leaked out that Jared Cook had broke off talks with the Packers and was going to negotiate with other teams. This was seen as a huge blow because Cook, despite dealing with a high ankle sprain last season, made the Packers’ offense churn. The Packers averaged 28.4 points and were 8-2 when Cook played; 24.6 and 2-4 when he didn’t.

People were wondering what was happening. And Thompsons being Thompson sat back for about 10 hours before signing Martellus Bennett to a three-year, $18.45 million deal. The most amazing thing is that contract was less than what they were going to give Cook.

Thompson knows value and talent and when those two elements intersect he pounces. Bennett is a solid addition. The ‘Black Unicorn’ had his highest catch percentage at 75.3 last season and with Rob Gronkowski sidelined for eight games, Bennett was third on the Patriots in targets — contributing to 20 percent of New England’s completions.

But all is not well just yet. Even though Thompson can do a jig because he used his ½ off coupon on Bennett, you have to wonder the effect of losing Cook. Aaron Rodgers was comfortable with him. That wasn’t more apparent than the NFC Divisional Playoffs. He trusted Cook to make a once-in-a-generation catch that ultimately led the Packers to get within one game of the Super Bowl.

So Thompson gave Rodgers another weapon, but the defense largely remains the same. It likely gets worse, because Micah Hyde — who oddly, wasn’t even offered a contract by the Packers — will probably get replaced by a rookie. Yet, Thompson can still beef up the defense. Linebacker Dont’a Hightower is the highest ranked player available that plays on the front seven. And the two best cornerbacks left are Terence Newman and Morris Claiborne. Both of those two are questionable. Newman will be 39 this season and Claiborne has been marginal for 4½ seasons. 

T.J. Lang is the best available free agent offensive lineman. But with Kevin Zeitler setting the market at a five-year, $60 million deal, it doesn’t look like Lang is coming back to Green Bay.

Thompson is tough to understand at times. Rodgers is 33, but Thompson has said that he doesn’t believe in ‘windows.’ So either Thompson is arrogant or has blind faith that Rodgers can remain at a top level a lot longer than the rest of us are anticipating.

A lot more pressure is on Rodgers and the coaching staff to continue to overhaul the roster with rookies and short-term free agents. Rodgers will enter camp in late July with his fourth No. 1 tight end since 2013. That has to be frustrating and at some point a veterans worth extends beyond stats and cap space. Does Rodgers make that throw in Dallas to a rookie? Highly unlikely.

Free agency is about enhancing your team. Trying to add a piece here and there in an effort to get your team over the next hurdle. That could mean a playoff berth for Tampa Bay or an AFC Championship appearance for Houston.

The Packers have been knocking on the Super Bowl door since 2014, but they’ve never added the core pieces needed to get over the hump. 


Cory Jennerjohn is a graduate from UW-Oshkosh and has been in sports media for over 15 years. He was a co-host on "Clubhouse Live" and has also done various radio and TV work as well. He has written for newspapers, magazines and websites. He currently is a columnist for CHTV and also does various podcasts. He recently earned his Masters degree from the University of Iowa. He can be found on Twitter: @Coryjennerjohn

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (58) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Bearmeat's picture

TT has been enigmatic since before he got the job. A leopard doesn't change his spots. This is just one more chip thrown on the "TT is weird" table - 10 plus years later.

dobber's picture

...Pretty much.

And in other news...
...water is wet.
...concrete is hard.
...the Bears still suck.

4thand1's picture

concrete isn't hard when it's wet.

4thand1's picture

concrete isn't hard when it's wet. when 1st poured

4thand1's picture

This is going nowhere fast

dobber's picture

Welcome to a Saturday during the off-season!

Thebearsstillsuck's picture

And everyone missed the most important one. The bears still suck

Spock's picture

"you have to wonder the effect of losing Cook. Aaron Rodgers was comfortable with him." Doesn't seem like the Bennet signing is a problem with Aaron; he tweeted a #RELAX with himself fist pumping a Packer's scout. I disagree with the author's assertion that "Thompson is tough to understand at times." TT has stayed remarkably the same man. He believes in his methods and just because we fans may not think he isn't working behind the scenes on FA doesn't mean he isn't.

marpag1's picture

Bingo. I also think it's pretty laughable that anyone would call signing Nick Perry and Martellus Bennett - two of the more sought after free agents on the market - "sitting on your hands for 10 hours."

jeremyjjbrown's picture

Yeah, he's predictable as they come. In fact you could argue that this move, even though not classic TT, was more TT than overpaying Cook.

Savage57's picture

What's puzzling is Ted eschewed signing his own guy, thereby retaining a comp pick, for an outside UFA who'll cost him one.

Ted and Co. had to have seen something in Bennett that outstripped Cook's utility because in the end the numbers for the two will probably wind up a wash.

Ted changed his MO on this one. It will be interesting to see how this entire FA cycle plays out. Despite his odd mannerisms, he's nobody's fool.

cuervo's picture

Bennett is 4 times the blocker Cook could ever hope to be, while being just as talented, if not a better reciever. The guy had 90 catches one year with Cutler throwing him the ball.

akeemthedream's picture

Won't the Packers get a comp pick if Cook signs somewhere else (which he will)?

It's a push.

People are overthinking this.

Bennett > Cook

Now we can move on to other things.

Savage57's picture

Context is your friend.

hodge555's picture

And if, as we suspect, Cook is after more money, they the comp pick is offsetting in the Packers favour as, from what we understand so far, the comp pick is highly associated to the contract money achieved.

Oppy's picture

Ted didn't "eschew" signing his own guy; his own guy broke off negotiations.

There is a difference.

If the Packers didn't want to resign cook, there would have been zero negotiations to begin with.. but there were.

Cook (or his agent) didn't like the numbers, and decided the walk away from Green Bay (or at least posture themselves that way). The packers moved on.

Oppy's picture

Probably worth noting "his own guy" wasn't even "his own guy" less than a year ago.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

That is a good point, Akeem. Of course, it remains to be seen whether Cook's deal matches (for purposes of comp pick cancellation) Bennett's deal. It might but I wonder if Cook has hurt himself and ends up with a significantly less lucrative deal than Bennett's. Right now I'd guess it works out OK for GB looking only at the comp pick ramifications.

sheppercheeser's picture

So much for Cook wanting to play for a winner. Word has it that the Bears, Bills and Lions are interested in his services. I think Jared's agent oversold his worth. Too bad, I liked him, but with Kendrick signed, GB is just fine in the TE department. Now, how 'bout some CB's?

marpag1's picture


Thompson does sign free agents - sometimes even splashy ones (cf. Charles Woodson) - but he doesn't do it very often and he isn't likely to overpay. Everybody ought to know this. What, exactly, is so friggen hard to understand?? What has caught anyone off guard or unexpectedly?

If he performs exactly as every educated observer would expect him to, does that make him an "enigma?"

Most overblown story in Green Bay Packer history...

Cory Jennerjohn's picture

...Made by the most overblown commenter on this site. That's laughable.

The Packers have been one or two pieces away for the last three years and Ted Thompson hasn't made the addition.

Charles Woodson was a Hall of Famer. He was a once-in-a-career free agent signing. That isn't happening again. Continue to keep living in 2006.

He's enigmatic because he doesn't take pressure off the coaches and players by signing veterans. Rookies by design are a bigger gamble because they need time to grow and learn — time that Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson and Clay Matthews doesn't have.

Nick Perry's picture

DPF is correct...Woodson was injured a crap load his last few seasons in Oakland. He had knee and hip injuries in 2004 and a broken leg in 2005 and hadn't played in 16 games since 2001. The last 2 seasons in Oakland he played under the franchise tag in just 19 games total. Granted he played really well for a few years, and then was injured and played like crap for 2 years in Oakland. Woodson only had 2 offers, one from GB and one from Tampa who wanted to use him at Safety.

Thompson took a risk considering Woodson's reputation and injury history at the time. I'd say Woodson turned into a "Once in a Career Player" AFTER he came to GB.

jasonperone's picture

You were so close, as you often are. Good point, well said and then...a slam on the author at the end for absolutely no reason. You seem to enjoy it and it's well documented so you're definitely not an enigma here. And therefore I won't ask why. I will again thank you for being a regular reader. I enjoy your stuff most of the time. Just wish you'd stay out of the penalty box

marpag1's picture

The word "story" does not mean "author." It doesn't even mean "this particular article," although I suppose I can see how people might have taken it that way. Maybe I should have said "storyline."

The "story" that Ted Thompson does nothing in free agency, never signs players other than his own, sits on his hands, twiddles his thumbs, doesn't do so much as make a phone call, cares only about money, is driven by ego and falls hopelessly into man-love with his own draft choices... is demonstrably false and hugely overblown.

Cory Jennerjohn's picture

Criticism from you is humorous.

Ted Thompson doesn't care about value? I needed a good laugh. Keep it up Marpag.

And yes, It's a story. It's been the same script for awhile. Thompson chooses the draft and develop philosophy over adding free agents that could make an impact right away.

You can take your Green and Gold glasses off anytime.

marpag1's picture


Please show me where I said anything remotely similar to "Ted Thompson doesn't care about value."

Call it a "story" if you want. I called it a story, too. What I said is that this story is "overblown," which it is. People go hugely overboard with this wacky notion that TT "never" signs anyone. We all know that he does. Heck, you badly overstated the "story" just now. You say, "Thompson chooses the draft and develop philosophy over adding free agents that could make an impact right away." And yet this very article that you wrote was occasioned by the fact that Thompson just signed a free agent that could make an impact right away.

In what way am I wearing "green and gold glasses?" Did I say that everything TT does is good? Can you show me where?

4thand1's picture

What makes a story is the attention it gets. Watching the NFL network they have a round table where one of the commentators works a crossword puzzle. He's referring to TT doing nothing in free agency. Then they sign Bennett, he rips up the paper and throws it in the air. It got a lot of attention.

croatpackfan's picture

Now, those, so called experts from NFL network are surprised? Why? Because Ted Thompson rarely give them substance to joke with Packers and to laugh to the organization. He never ever do things the way they are telling is the right way. They buried Packers at 4-6 last season. They never ever believed Packers will run the table. They were lamenting (as many on this blog) that Aaron is done and TT did nothing to help team! TT never draft player they said he should, so he is stubborn, egomaniac who lives in his autistic world of draft & develop. He does not give them titles to fill empty season, so they must do something to justify their salaries. Oh, how surprised they were...
And can somebody explain me, what is different when you sign Nick Perry (former Packer) and when you sign, lets say JP Paul (former Giant) as FA to the roster. Both are signings of FA...
So, yes. marpag is right!

Point Packer's picture

11-5. Another NFC championship playoff loss. Everybody says the same thing next year.

GB continues to be a very good team due to Aaron Rodgers. It fails to win another SB due to Ted Thompson's personnel decisions. Yes, they may good for the team long-term. But if you want your team to win a SB, a GM needs to acquire talent to fit that goal. Pending some last minutes splashes, GBs defense is going to be a disaster next year.

akeemthedream's picture

"Pending some last minutes splashes, GBs defense is going to be a disaster next year."

I don't agree.
-I think Lowry and Clark are going to be really good.
-I think Ryan, Martinez, Rollins, and Randall will all improve a lot.
-I think if Matthews and Perry can somehow stay healthy they will thrive.
-I think Burnett will take Hyde's roll, and do it better.
-I think Brice will be a factor.
-I think Thompson will sign a front 7 player who we will like.
-I think the draft lines up perfectly for the Packers (lots of CB's and edge. 3 1st rd OT's, 3 1st rd RB's, 3 1st rd QB's will push good defenders down)
-Oh I also believe that they will resign Jones for depth.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Another nice post, Akeem (you won the thread in the GB commits to Speed article, too). I have some quibbles, like we will miss Peppers, but all your points are reasonable projections.

dobber's picture

Why are you passing judgment on this team and roster for 2017 on March 11?

Bert's picture

Good point Dobber. Easy to get wound up and we need to R-E-L-A-X and give Ted a chance. Bennett is a great sign. I still have hope he is going "all in" for 2017 and will bring Lang and even Lacey back also. Maybe sign a CB and OLB. Be nice to go into the draft with no huge holes to fill.

chugwater's picture

We're 48 hours into FA. Made two big signings on each side of the ball. Have a lot of players entering their second and third year in the league so the potential is there to make some year over year strides. The draft will be loaded with defensive talent. It's likely Ted picks a CB and rusher next month in the early rounds.

It's highly unlikely GB will be a Top 8 defense, but not unreasonable to believe they can move from 22nd in the league to possibly 10th-12th which would be good enough. And yet some have already condemned this defense to the trash heap.

I don't get it either.

johnnyd17's picture

at first glance, Bennett is about even with Cook as a receiver, same age, better blocker, for less money, at least in March, looks like a win

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Agree. Bennett is a different type of TE (the kind I like better, though not in vogue in the NFL lately). Bennett ran a 4.68 forty while Cook ran a 4.49 forty at the combine. Of course, I don't think Cook runs that anymore. Bennett is the true dual-threat TE: a team can run the ball as efficiently with him on the field as they can pass.

Seth Borden's picture

The CB's named here are NOT the answer. I'd rather draft than pay them.

Ryan Graham's picture

Bennett was desired over Cook last year he's a better blocker and a more reliable player through the years. Ted will probably draft a faster more athletic tight end in the draft.

I can understand the question marks as to why Ted hasn't made an impact on the defensive side of the ball where the team is really hurting outside of resigning Nick Perry. on all 3 levels D line backer and backfield there's help needed yes but we've barely scratched the surface of day 3 let's not forget. By this time last year we hadn't even signed Jared Cook.

GB Jacker's picture

This is simple - Bennett stays pretty healthy, Cook is an injury risk throughout the season - small and big.

Smart and charismatic guy - I can see him and Rodgers becoming very close on and off the field.

Very excited.

Would like to see Barwin come in and find a good one year deal on Claiborne or House.

I just pray we don't see Lacy in a Seattle shirt next season doing what Lynch did to us when we could have had him

Tarynfor12's picture

Lacy is as far away in comparison and ability of Lynch as those 7 new Earth like planets recently discovered.

GB Jacker's picture

Feastmode may yet do some damage. He might not be Lynch but he's still potentially a difference make. Boom or bust at this point I guess.

Oppy's picture

I never heard Lacy referred to as Feast Mode before.


BELIEVER's picture

I would like to see Lacy and House signed. Bonus would be Cook and Lang. The Packers still have cap space.

Horse's picture

We've had 2 days of the new league year. It might be just a little premature to condemn Thompson, the defense and the season.

NMPF's picture

Great post Horse.

fthisJack's picture

so far, the Packers have pretty much stood pat. got Perry back and substituted Bennett for Cook. they need to sign a CB and OLB in FA so they can go BPA in the draft.
fortunately, it seems the draft lines up with the Packers' needs. we could see a CB, OLB, and a TE drafted early.

Since '61's picture

TT is an enigma, wrapped in a conundrum, wrapped in a puzzle. All of which is often frustrating for us as Packer fans. Like any GM TT has had his successes and failures but he seems to leave the Packers one or two players short every season. As of now we still need at least one CB and one more pass rusher for the defense. I don't think any FA CBs remain that will make a difference. After committing to Perry and already heavily committed to CM3 it's difficult to see TT spending a significant amount to sign an experienced pass rusher. While the draft is heavy with CBs and pass rushers can we really depend on rookies to make the difference in their first season at these premium positions? Only if we can find a Herb Adderly and Reggie White in the draft. Highly unlikely. It's still early in the game for FAs and you never know what TT will do but we may come up one or two players short again. Time will tell. Thanks, Since '61

Lphill's picture

I would like Barwin and House then I would feel a little better about the defense and draft the best corner and linebacker available in first and second round.

Ryan Graham's picture

Agreed. Time will tell, but with these additions I think the defense looks a whole lot better. Add an offensive lineman, an RB for competition and depth, Defensive tackle and tight end looks much improved. Top corners in free agency went way too expensive...i still like whose available including House. I think this past season was a fluke for him. That whole defense had a lot of Talent in Jacksonville but Gus Bradley never seemed to have control of the team. The young corners particularly Randall will improve, ideally the inside backers improve. May be an entirely different story next year...then again who knows. It's March 11th

BELIEVER's picture

Losing Hyde will be a good thing. He was average on his best day. The defense was ugly. How much worst can it get.

lebowski's picture

That defense needed more 'average' last year, unfortunately Randall and Rollins were downright ugly. Without Hyde the Packers don't reach that NFC Championship game

dobber's picture

Fortunately, the Packers aren't trying to reach the 2017 NFCCG... ;)

Dzehren's picture

We need more speed on defense- that's why Hyde was not brought back. We need a difference maker on defense at any position. We can find a veteran FA CB in the next few months iMO

lebowski's picture

You see what's left in the veteran free-agent CB market? Not much that would be a huge improvement over one of the most reliable guys we had last year. Not saying losing Hyde destroys our chances but too many are writing his contributions off. Smart and steady goes a long way when the rest of the backfield is young and confused on a weekly basis.

stockholder's picture

TT sent the best message a GM could to his players. Want Money, Earn it! It also sent Blackmail down the tubes. His rabbit foot still works. Regardless what emotions were all feeling. He's in control, and Hope became our cry again. TT has us eating out of his hands. He turns fear into hope. Well done TT. I just wish he'd want the glory more than winning the fans trust.

Rossonero's picture

The whole point of free agency is for bad teams to overpay for players because they don't know how to draft.

Ted is not perfect, but his batting average is better than some other bone headed GMs out there. The point about Martellus Bennett is that, did you hear about any rumors linking him to the Packers? No. Ted is an enigma because he is tight lipped. There were no rumors. Do you remember rumors about us signing Peppers or Woodson? I sure don't.

He is working on things behind the scenes, sometimes he still frustrates me, but he is trying.

WinUSA's picture

A lot of Thompson detractors are pulling black crow feathers from their mouths.

WinUSA's picture

A lot of Thompson detractors are pulling black crow feathers from their mouths.

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"The Bears still suck!"
"I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle – victorious."
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