Packer Update

Not enough bang for the buck

Bush beaten again. Thompson is paying $4.5 million for this?

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.

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19 Comments to "Not enough bang for the buck"

  1. Archie says:

    I’d add Hawk, Barnett and Grant to the list and possibly the new contracts of Clifton and Tausch. I realize the latter was forced by poor planning at OL and if the Pack makes a Super Bowl run, they could be valuable to have around as insurance.

    I’d say TT’s track record on contracts = Grade C. He either pays market value or more. Compared to Sherman, that’s a big improvement. Sherman probably deserved a Grade = F.

    Giving TT ten years to build a SB team is an amazing leap of faith. Yes, we have a nice passing game but after that, we are a 500 team. The passing game will likely put us in the playoffs the next few seasons but will it be enough to win playoff games and get to a Super Bowl? I don’t think so. I believe your pass defense has to be good and your ST have be good and your running game has to be able to keep the defense honest, to be a true contended. Grant ran better last year after Green was signed and maybe Sitton is the reason but sitting here how, does anyone really think Clifton, Colledge, Wells/Spitz and Tauscher are really going to improve their run blocking at this point in their careers? The best hope for the run game is the Pack’s passing game that may be as good as any in the league at this point. ST is an enigma. Why, when ST is a supposed point of emphasis and we are young, can we be so poor at it? Coaching? And pass defense, can we increase the pressure on the QB enough to keep teams from loading up on CMIII and neutralizing him? Probably not. And in coverage, can we do better than last year? I think we have a chance with our DBs but the coverage skills of Hawk/Barnett mean opposing offenses can go there any time they need a key 1st down. So, I see 2010 as more of the same as 2009 with a similar ending. That’s not bad, mind you, but for his 7th season in GB, is that good enough? Packer fans are very tolerant so I assume they will give TT ten years to produce a champion. It shouldn’t take that long, especially when you have arguably the best young franchise QB in the game. JMHO.

    • Michael Rodney says:

      As for Hawk, I didn’t consider rookie contracts since they’re pretty much determined by where the player was drafted.

    • stroh says:

      The only reason our pass D was so porous was the 3 injured CB’s!! Add to that the FACT that the Packers poores games were against the 2 teams that lit up the pass D were the teams in the NFL w/ by far the most intimate knowledge of Capers and his schemes! Or didn’t you realize that Pitts still uses Capers D and Whisenhunt the HC of the Cards was the O Coordinator in Pitts during Capers time there? I guess thats beyond your LIMITED thought!!

      Just curious… Would you put the best run blockers or best pass blockers on the OL? I don’t know about you, but given that Rodgers is the Franchise, he must be protected at all costs! Bulaga and Lang might be better run blockers, but they are light years behind Cliff and Tuasch as pass blockers!!! Again I guess thats beyond your LIMITED knowledge!!!

      None of those contracts are nearly as bad as anything Sherman did. Bubba Franks contract was heavily backloaded so he got only a portion, a small portion, of its value. As noted Hawks contract was slotted both in total value and guarenteed money!

      Donald Lee is making 2M this season. Given that the salary cap was well over 120M, I would say 2M for an average players is right in line!!! Same goes for Chillar, who would have been getting 4M per from the AZ Cards to play for them when we originally signed him. And again, is 3M a bad contract for an average player and core ST performer when the average contract has to be over 2M per player? I don’t think so… But I guess that is beyond your again LIMITED knowledge!!!

      Hell even Bush making 1.5M is well below even an average contract, since he is a below average player!!! Seems about right to me…

      • Michael Rodney says:

        Your comments are always welcome, but stop being sarcastic and condescending. Express your opinions without belittling the opinions of someone else.

    • Cocoman says:

      I don’t understand including Grant to this list. He has had back to back 1200+ yard seasons since signing his deal. His yards per carry dipped below 4 in 2007 but he came back with a 4.4 average in 2009. I am not saying he is an ellite back but it seems like he has played up to his contract. What am I missing that makes this a bad deal?

  2. 400metres says:

    But how much of that money was guaranteed? I confess ignorance on the details, but aren’t NFL contracts waivable by releasing the player, save the guaranteed portion?

    In other words, are the Pack still cutting checks to Bubba Franks or Manuel like the Brewers re: Bill Hall and Jeff Suppan?

    So long as a contract is basically voidable by releasing the player outright once he stinks, I don’t have any problem with signing him up when it looks reasonable without the benefit of hindsight.

    • Michael Rodney says:

      You make a good point. Manuel’s deal was for $10 million, but he only collected about $3.5 million before he was released. Still, paying Manuel $3.5 million was a mistake. I considered both the total value of the deal and the amount of guaranteed money when compiling this list.

  3. [...] for the money?:  Packer Update’s “Not Enough Bang for the Buck“ has the six worst TT’s Sherman-type money deals.  Fans can decide if he is [...]

  4. [...] for the money: Packer Update’s “Not Enough Bang for the Buck” has the six worst TT’s Sherman-type money deals. Fans can decide if he is right. [...]

  5. Bernie says:

    “I considered both the total value of the deal and the amount of guaranteed money when compiling this list.”

    Isn’t that like going to the supermarket and not using the 70% off coupon?

    Just kidding, but I think we spend all to much time discussing this GM and not nearly enough time reviewing the coaching staff and their decisions.

  6. nerd's laptop says:

    TT also held onto KGB for one season too long. Well, most of one season too long. Still, he’s done an amazing job. Let’s look at all the contracts he DIDN’T make. Wahle, Rivero, Randy Moss, just to name a few. Corey Williams.

    • stroh says:

      KGB was a really good pass rusher just the year before… He was extremely valuable as a complimentary pass rusher to Kampman. He had minor offseason arthroscopic knee surgery, and that pretty much ended his career! THere is absolutely no way of knowing a minor arthroscopic surgery would end KGB’s career!!!

  7. pckman29 says:

    So, how is Brady Poppinga a ‘journeyman’? A label like that is usually tagged to someone who has been on multiple teams (Jeff Garcia), with little or minimal success (Joey Harrington). Poppinga has been with 1 (!) team his whole career, and while his success hasn’t been great, it’s still pretty good for a 4th round pick and not nearly Joey Harrington bad. Journeyman? Really? C’mon now. Poppinga is a good LB who plays when needed, and is great in run support. And I don’t think that Chillar isn’t a bad player, and he probably would’ve made that much on the open market. The Lee deal wasn’t bad until last year, when Favre wasn’t there and Finley/Havner came alive. Only the Franks, Bush, and Manuel deal actually have merit. I realize that this site has never been high on Ted Thompson, his staff, and their decisions. But seriously. This may come as a shock, but EVERY GM actually makes mistakes , for whatever reason. I realize in your perfect GM world, no mistakes are made, but they actually do happen. We are lucky to not have had more mistakes (ask the Redskins) in FA. Ask anybody affiliated with the NFL and they will say that TT is one of the best. Accept it.

    No more ‘Thompson is Satan’…

    • Michael Rodney says:

      You obviously didn’t understand “Thompson is Satan.” Read it again. Slowly. This site has been pro-Thompson since the day he was hired. Hell, even this particular post is pro-Thompson. Also, the word “journeyman” has nothing to do with how many different places a person works. Any “experienced, competent but routine worker” is a journeyman. Poppings fits that definition to perfection.

  8. DaveK says:

    This is an overly simplistic view on these contracts. It doesn’t take into account a fair number of factors needed to evaluate these decisions.

    1. Bubba’s contract didn’t turn out anywhere close to $28 million. It ended up three years and $9 million or $3 million a year which at the time was the going rate for a quality FREE AGENT tight end and Bubba was probably the best TE on the market that summer.

    2. Bubba’s production went down considerably after the contract but I guess TT was supposed to predict knee and neck injuries in 2005 and season ending injuries two years later? These injuries took a step away from Bubba and he never an extra step to start. No way TT could have predicted this especially considering his good health prior to the contract.

    3. You also have to consider who else Sherman gave him to replace Bubba with if TT choose not to give Bubba a new contract. David Martin and Ben Steele. Not exactly a deep roster of TE’s to give you any real bargaining power when discussing contracts with Bubba’s agent.

    • Michael Rodney says:

      Your points are certainly valid. For what it’s worth, the Packers placed the transition tag on Franks that off-season, so he really wasn’t a true “free” agent. No teams made an offer to Franks and by August he could only negotiate with Green Bay. I thought then and I still think now that Thompson overpaid Franks, but that’s just me. The fact that these 6 choices have stirred such a debate is an indication of just how good a job TT has done with contracts.

  9. DaveK says:

    Michael – I forgot he was transition tagged but I’m not sure it changes the equation much at all. The transition tag was the only card in TT’s hand. Franks at that point was an slightly above average TE who started every game the previous five years. He was an important cog in that offense and if I remember correctly Lord Favre was calling for him to be resigned. Again, there was just no way to predict his next season would be marred by injury. More importantly Franks was the only legit TE on the roster. Could he have gone out and signed someone better? Google 2005 free agents and tell me what other TE you would rather have had TT sign that year? In essence, TT may have slightly over-paid for Franks, transition tag of not, but the alternatives to slightly over-paying Franks were far worse. Franks had leverage and used it and got himself a nice contract. If that was “one of his worst” moves then TT has been a pretty good GM.

  10. [...] Packer Update takes a look at some of Ted Thompson’s…oh, shall we say questionable player extensions. [...]

  11. Bruce says:

    None of these contracts are all that bad and that’s a tribute to Ted. He obviously spends wisely and chooses the players carefully. Under Sherman and even Wolf, the Packers used to have a ton of dead money on the salary cap. There’s almost none of that now.

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