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If Poppinga Is Cut...

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If Poppinga Is Cut... won't be because of his salary.

I know many fans (and Bloggers) were critical of Poppinga's extension last offseason. I understood it from a rewarding a good-locker-room-guy standpoint, not to mention I (mistakenly) thought Poppinga was improving at the end of 2007 and would continue to do so in 2008. Unfortunately, Brady seemed to not only plateau last season, but his level of play declined as the season went on, to the point where the coaches tried him at right defensive end in passing situations the last few games of the season, a move that bore no fruit whatsoever.

I would not be surprised in the least to see him cut during training camp. But I think his salary will play minimal to no part in any move of that nature, despite what Rob Demovsky writes here. Yes, it's a lot to pay for a backup linebacker, but it's not like the Packers don't have the room under the cap. Thompson kept KGB on the roster at the beginning of last year despite an incredible disparity between his salary and his playing time. (Granted, the argument could be made that he should have been cut during camp due to his inability to generate a pass rush, the one thing he was on the roster to do, but I digress...) I also think the argument for cutting Poppinga does not take into account the type of people Thompson likes to have on his football team. Brady will do anything the coaches ask. He's a team-first guy all the way who gives everything he's got on every play. Yes, he has some severe limitations, but he's a prototype in many ways of the type of try-hard, football-first player Thompson wants. That plays a much bigger part in Thompson's decision making than most NFL GMs. Poppinga, for all his faults, is valuable as a backup to Kampman if for no other reason than he has actually played with his hands up since getting drafted and is much more comfortable dropping into coverage. Combined with his intensity and combativeness, he's worth keeping around as quality depth in a linebacking corps that will run 9-10 deep.

That said, again, it would not shock me to see him cut toward the end of training camp if Thompson and the Packers feel they have all they need at the linebacker spot without Brady in the mix. I just don't think his salary will have much to do with the decison.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (14) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

bomdad's picture

Biggest victim of Sanders's scheme? I think so, he can't cover like they needed the sam to be able to. He'll be a good OLB in the 3-4, surprised me with speed at times. Asset on special teams too.

Brian Carriveau's picture

Wholeheartedly agree with Aaron. His salary is a lot for a backup, but it's not exorbitant. If he can be a special teams contributor, there's no reason to think he'll get cut for salary reasons.

Shootz's picture

I think, if anything, his coverage ability has gotten worse from '07 to '08. I like the guy, personally, but not because he's an incredible linebacker. He's got a good motor, contributes on special teams, is servicable as a stand in and is active in the community but if any linebackers above him on the depth chart get injured I'm sure I'm not the only one who'll start to get a bit jittery.
Some people are down on Chillar as well but I think he's easily the superior player and he's not seeing anywhere near the kind of cash or job security that Poppinga's seeing. I will be surprised if they cut Poppinga during camp, particularly given the big emphasis that McCarthy has been putting on the team's ability to compete in the third phase this year and the reluctance that the front office seems to have about admitting they made mistakes signing players to longer-term, more substantial contracts.

DaveK's picture

These seven will be on the roster barring an injury: Thompson, Matthews, Hawk, Barnett, Chillar, Bishop, and Kampman. If they only keep nine then there will be two spots left for Poppinga, Jones, Lansanah, and Havner. No way Havner makes it as a LB on this roster and I think they switched him to TE last mini-camp anyways. Lansanah plays inside. So, that leaves rookie Brad Jones to replace Poppinga as the primary backup to Kampman. If Jones is amazing in his rookie training camp then maybe Poppinga becomes expendable but I doubt it. The more likely decision will what to do with Jones whom they appear high on right now. Do they try to stash him on the practice squad after cutting him or do they keep 10 LB's on the roster.

retiredgrampa's picture

It is a tribute to the team's more solid depth that this subject could even arise. Obviously, he is on the the edge now so how he plays in the new scheme will determine his fate. I, for one, sincerely hope he can contribute more now so that he can remain on this team. He epitomizes the term "Packer People" by his high efforts and character. I would hope that there will always be a spot for men like him.

WoodyG's picture

So far no one has mentioned the person who may have the biggest influence on whether Popps is a Packer in 2009. Capers was hired & given the reponsibility to create a top-ten defensive unit in GB. (thus Raji & Matthews in the first round)
The final roster on defense will be shaped primarily by what Capers has determined as neccessary to accomplish this. All other factors are secondary including his salary.
At the same time there doesn't appear there's someone on the roster that will bump him eventually. But look out. If TT picks up another OLB before game 1, Popps could be gone.

PackersRS's picture

IMO his salary won't be a factor because of the injury plagued season we just had. Had we just been a, say, 13-3 team, his cost-benefit would be analyzed, and he could have been cut. But because we need defensive depth so much, unless someone surpasses him, he'll stick around despite being so expensive...

Aaron Rogders's picture

I wonder how many times Poppinga says "MONKEY PILE!!" during a game...

Jayme's picture

Probably no more than Seau or Ray Lewis. I'm not saying he's on their level, I'm just saying they get a lot of tackles that have already been made.

buckslayernyc's picture

Poppinga is better suited to an outside pass rushing LB with a few coverage assignments than he was in the former scheme.

He will be the surprise story in this defense...if the issue is coverage, I take Brady over Kampman anytime.

The guy played DE in the 4/3 in college. He is a survivor, he will make it and thrive.

Shootz's picture

Do we have a running total on how many 'surprise story of this year's defense' and 'player that will benefit the most from the 3-4' claims have been made at this point?

bomdad's picture

Shootz, we're hoping they all will "benefit the most" from having a new DC. Popps is a Mike Vrabel kind of body type. I find myself likening this 3-4 personnel to what the Pats run: Seymour~Cullen, now Popps~Vrabel. Next it will be Bruschi~Hawk.

BubbaOne's picture

B/c of the Q's of how they adjust to the 3-4 I think they keep 11 LBs; only Obiozor gets cut. Remember, they let Tracy White go b/c of their high regard for Lansanah and having more LBs helps the Special Teams.

The extra roster spot is available b/c Havner doubles as the 3rd TE.

Franklin Hillside's picture

A Tracy White mention. Yes!

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