"It's a Challenge." Mike McCarthy Addresses Packers' Positional Losses, Additions

At one point, the losses sustained by the Packers over the beginning course of this year's off-season seemed insurmountable. On a list that contains starting right guard T.J. Lang and do-it-all defensive back Micah Hyde, it's not hard to see why.

Fortunately, the Packers have re-stocked via free agency; something many thought they wouldn't ever see in the Ted Thompson era.

They didn't necessarily re-stock positions they had a clear deficiency in unless you count the re-addition of Davon House at cornerback, who won't be playing anything remotely close to the position Hyde once held. However, Martellus Bennett and Lance Kendricks were two tight end acquisitions that shocked the free agency market. It wasn't until the Packers lost Jared Cook, who missed six games in 2016, that they deemed it fit to announce the Bennett signing. Of course, Kendricks followed shortly after.

Add in the signing of Ricky Jean Francois on the defensive line to help bulk up their run defense and pass rush, and the Packers have had a relatively successful off-season so far. Thompson has signed four free agents - now five after guard Justin McCray was announced to have signed on Wednesday - and all of which can contribute in their own special way. Even if they weren't at positions the Packers took blows to over the last month.

"We lost some really good players and really good people, too," Head coach Mike McCarthy said on Tuesday from the NFL owners' meeting. "It's more opportunity for our younger players or our new players that are coming in. At the end of the day, we're going to tailor what we ask these players to do to their strengths, not what players before them did.

"The biggest opportunity is for our second, third and fourth-year players and for our veteran group to take big steps in leadership. Some of the players that have moved on had big leadership roles in our locker room"

As if the memo was finally faxed into Thompson's office at 1265 Lombardi Avenue, his building blocks in free agency that helped address less-than-ideal positional requirements means one less area the Packers would have to target in the draft. Thus, giving them free range with what would likely be their first round pick at 29th overall. 

Keeping their own guys in the building was always, and is still the priority in Green Bay. Evidenced less in 2017 due to the number of free agents the Packers let walk. Understandably, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Davante Adams and Corey Linsley are just three names that would be expecting a new contract next off-season. 

In typical Thompson fashion, his ideology has clearly been set on the future.

"Our philosophy is clear pretty much each and every year," McCarthy said. "We do intend to sign our own guys. That's always our priority, that's the type of conversation that takes place inside football operations.

"It's a challenge. Obviously, the landscape is different this year."

The only thing stopping the Packers from seriously contending as a championship team has been not only themselves, but also Thompson's on addressing a positional need on his roster. If this off-season has been an indicator, there might be some kind of newfound foreign leniency in Thompson's philosophy. It could be enough to propel the Packers to the next level for the first time in what would be seven years.

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Zachary Jacobson is a staff writer/reporter for Cheesehead TV. He's the voice of The Leap on iTunes and can be heard on The Scoop KLGR 1490 AM every Saturday morning. He's also a contributor on the Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter via @ZachAJacobson or contacted through email at [email protected].

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Comments (18)

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Since '61's picture

March 30, 2017 at 06:39 am

What's good about the FA signings is that 3 of them are proven NFL starters, Bennett, Kendricks and Francois. House, at least to me is still a bit of a question mark as a starting CB and McGray is basically a rookie and he is probably just a camp body. Still would like to sign an ILB and then we could focus on CB, OLB and RB in the draft. Thanks, Since '61

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croatpackfan's picture

March 30, 2017 at 07:42 am

"If this off-season has been an indicator, there might be some kind of newfound foreign leniency in Thompson's philosophy. It could be enough to propel the Packers to the next level for the first time in what would be seven years."
Well, this is interesting statement. I read thruogh years that Ted Thompson constantly saying how they monitor free agents all the time and act when they (his department) find player who they think can upgrade Packers team (at right price, of course).
So, Zac, either you do not belive that or you think that Packers should go every year "all in", who *beeeeep* the future...
This off season is logical. There were more good players in FA than earlier seasons. It was because Packers lost quite number of their FA - 6 of them already signed with other teams (T. J., J. C., Mycah, Jones, Eddie, Cook - to add to that mix Abby - cut at the beginning of the last season, now member of Detroit). That amount of Packer's FA left on the market some good players to be signed for acceptable contracts. But we can not say that Justin McCray is upgrade over T. J., but we can say that Bennett is over Cook. Kendricks - upgrade for the position, Francois - upgrade, House - at least at the same level, many consider as upgrade...
But, ask yourself, how many of those players would be avalable without Packers FA? Probably few...
So, this FA season is so rich with signings of FA, because they were available on the market!

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Nick Perry's picture

March 30, 2017 at 07:53 am

All you had to do is look at the number of FA the Packers were set to have in 2017 and you knew there would be players leaving. The Packers had 19 FA when you count Unrestricted, Restricted, and Exclusive Rights FA, that's a lot of players.

Just the number of FA tells you there will be player losses, you simply can't keep everyone. But this Spring it feels different. Thompson didn't "Stand Pat" for once and actually ADDED players who are more than Camp Bodies.

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Nick Perry's picture

March 30, 2017 at 08:45 am

Just read something interesting on another site. The combined cap dollars spent for 2017 on Bennett, Kendricks, RJF, and House is approximately $10.43 Million.

Hmmm...Less than $11 million for Bennett, Kendricks, RJF, and House? Please tell me why the hell this doesn't happen more often? I understand Bennett will cost $8.5 million alone next season and Kendricks another $2.2 million but IMO that's still worth it.

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Since '61's picture

March 30, 2017 at 09:53 am

Nick, you are spot on as usual. The FA signings happened out of necessity this year. An actual sense of urgency due to the number of Packer players lost to FA. In previous seasons it would have been nice to have done some of this to see if we could have made over the hump to the SB. Anyway, here we are, let's see what happens. Thanks, Since '61

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Nick Perry's picture

March 30, 2017 at 10:42 am

Thanks Since '61. I totally agree with you about our FA signings, it really was out of necessity this season. I'm not trying to take away from what Ted has done this year because he's done some really good things. But there have been seasons where the Packers need was pretty great at other positions yet Ted didn't do anything to address it.

That "Sense of Urgency" is only going to increase with each passing season until Rodgers wins that 2nd ring. It's great Ted is always thinking 2 or even 3 seasons ahead, but Rodgers will be 34 in December. If the Packers aren't there now, they should be in "Do Everything to Win Now" mode very soon. I know Rodgers says he wants to play until he's 40, but there's no guarantees that happens.

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Since '61's picture

March 30, 2017 at 11:53 am

And there is no guarantee that Rodgers stays in Green Bay to play until he is 40. So the win it all now mode is even more crucial for the next 2 seasons. Thanks, Since '61

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jh9's picture

March 30, 2017 at 01:25 pm

The Packers have had plenty of opportunities to get back to the SB since 2010 and have failed. TT had the team he envisioned to win another SB under contract for the 2015 and 2016 seasons and it didn't happen. Now, it's time to reload and it just might be that the "wave" the Packers have been riding on with Aaron Rodgers since he was drafted has made its way to shore.

It wouldn't surprise me at all if AR left Green Bay to play for either the Rams (Hollywood, baby) or his favorite team when he was growing up, the 49ers. Both teams are in dire need of a QB.

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fthisJack's picture

March 31, 2017 at 08:04 am

it hasn't been their offense thats kept them out of the SB. the damn defense needs to get fixed and i think that keeping Capers all these years is the main reason they have failed. the Seattle loss in 2014, i put totally on him and his play not to lose defense with a big lead.
i agree that injuries have played a part but i think his scheme is too complicated. simplify it so you don't have "guys out of position" every other play. or get rid of him and his bottom feeding defense every year.

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jh9's picture

March 30, 2017 at 12:55 pm

With the signing of Bennett, Francois, House, and McCray, it could be that TT is setting the stage to do something totally unTT--like trading up in this draft. (What?!)

We know the priorities in this draft for the Packers are OLB, RB, and CB. If TT hadn't signed the above FAs, he would have to use rounds 4-7 to fill those needs. With TE, veteran CB, back-up DL, and back-up OL signed, he is free to use picks 4-7 as trade material to move up. This draft happens to be deep at OLB and CB and the Packers could get a quality player at those two positions in rounds 2 and 3. It just might be that TT shocks us all by trading up in round 1 to get someone like Dalvin Cook.

It probably won't happen, knowing TT. But if it did...

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jww061356's picture

March 30, 2017 at 12:35 pm

Just spitballing here....maybe we are seeing the front edge of an unannounced transition from Thompson to Elliott Wolf? Maybe a recognition that the landscape is shifting and you have to shift your methods a bit to continue to compete? I have nothing to base this on, just a gut feeling. We still need a starting caliber CB and OLB, and at least a rotational RB, but at least now we have a chance. We lost a lot of locker room leadership, but a lot of those guys were a step slow or a tick old.

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al bundy's picture

March 30, 2017 at 07:48 pm

Ted aka doofus ain't leaving anytime soon, at least if his team gets to the playoffs. If they have a so so year he may step aside if it looks like the wheels are falling off. Who knows. Him and mental Mike should leave together?

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4zone's picture

March 30, 2017 at 01:20 pm

Two of our FA signings are low level talent. Another one is depth, the forth MAY improve the position, or end up replacing a mid level guy. Only one was really an upgrade at his position.

We have gaping holes now on OL, RB and our most versatile OL backup. We lost depth and production I. Our arguably biggest need, pass rush. And the one DB that walk, outside of the safety position, was the most productive on the team.

Sorry, ain't seeing it. Just the typical smoke and mirrors and a guy behind the curtain too stuck in his ancient rut to adapt to the changing landscape. That's how businesses fail.

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4thand1's picture

March 30, 2017 at 08:31 pm

I'll you said the same thing about Cook last year.

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4zone's picture

March 30, 2017 at 01:25 pm

Come next year, Ted's gonna roll up his sleeves and overpay one of his own FAs and lowball the rest so he can save money to lowball the next year's FAs then he decides he likes that so much, he signs a contract extension for 5 more years., then here we go again...

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4zone's picture

March 30, 2017 at 01:29 pm

If I were AR, I wouldn't sign a contract extension. I'm swimming in money, I'd hold my future as a bargaining chip to get better players. If GB doesn't want to play along, then I knew I could take my pick of the league for a better chance at another SB.

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4zone's picture

March 30, 2017 at 01:38 pm

Forbes lists AR as making $7.5 MIL in endorsements and such. Another SB win probably puts that over $10 Mil at least. They guy is not hurting for money. His ego is though. Everyone comparing his one ring to Brady's fist full you can bet rubs him raw. This guy has the chick, the house, the money. What he lacks, is rings.

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al bundy's picture

March 30, 2017 at 07:58 pm

He is on a money ball team willing to use cheap talent. He would have several​! Rings anywhere else. Think about his skill set on a team loaded on d and numerous big receivers. Pls tight ends that have speed.

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