General manager Ted Thompson has been prudent when it comes to spending money. Long gone are the days of handing lucrative long-term extensions to broken-down veterans and lavishing millions of dollars on other team’s castoffs. Instead, Thompson has rewarded players on his own roster – usually with contracts that ultimately proved to be fair for both sides. The deals given to Aaron Rodgers, Ryan Grant, Nick Barnett, Aaron Kampman and Cullen Jenkins are perfect examples of this. But Thompson hasn’t been infallible. He’s pulled a few “Shermans” of his own. Here are the six worst (in alphabetical order):
Jarrett Bush – Thompson didn’t actually pay the backup corner $4.5 million over three years. The Titans did (in the form of an offer sheet), but he chose to match it on Mar. 16, 2009. To be fair, quite a few teams were interested in Bush when he hit the restricted free agent market. Then again, none of those GMs had the opportunity to watch him up close and personal for three years.
Brandon Chillar – Since his four-year, $21 million extension was signed only seven months ago, is it fair to already call it a mistake? After watching the veteran linebacker for the past two seasons, the answer is a resounding yes! Chillar’s a versatile defender and a core special teams player, but $21 million? It’s hard to imagine that he could’ve made anything close to that amount on the open market.
Bubba Franks – One of Thompson’s first moves as GM turned out to be one of his worst. On Aug. 24, 2005, he put an end to the tight end’s month-long holdout by handing him a seven-year deal worth $28 million. The money seemed awfully high for a player coming off two fairly pedestrian seasons. Nevertheless, nobody could’ve predicted just how little Franks had left in the tank. He was gone three nondescript seasons later.
Donald Lee – The tight end was signed as a street free agent in September of 2005 and quickly began splitting snaps with Franks. Thompson gave him a four-year extension worth $11 million on Nov. 5, 2007. Since that day, Lee has averaged fewer than 8 yards per reception.
Marquand Manuel – The safety was given a four-year contract worth $10 million to leave Seattle as a free agent on Mar. 14, 2006. He played one disappointing season with the Packers before being unceremoniously dumped at the end of training camp in 2007. It’s still hard to believe that Thompson could be so wrong on a player he knew so well. The pair was together in Seattle for two seasons.
Brady Poppinga – The journeyman was handed a four-year deal worth $13.5 million on July 24, 2008. He did nothing to merit such a deal prior to that and he’s done nothing to justify it since. Thompson, who toiled as a fringe backup linebacker and core special teamer for 10 years in the NFL, seems to have a soft spot for Poppinga – a try hard but physically limited player himself.
These six players were awarded contracts totalling approximately $87 million. And while that’s not much bang for the buck, it doesn’t look so bad when you consider that former GM Mike Sherman once spent $59 million on defensive linemen Joe Johnson and Cletidus Hunt. Say what you will about Bush, Chillar, Franks, Lee, Manuel and Poppina, but none has left or figures to leave town with their tail between their legs. At least Thompson spent unwisely on quality human beings and not losers who were more interested in getting high than getting sacks.