***As a preface to this take, I'd like to thank Brian Carriveau and Aaron Nagler from CheeseheadTV for providing insight as to the expected, impending CBA rules. Without their writing, I would not have clarification on a couple of important pieces included in the CBA. If you aren't following CheeseheadTV, what are you waiting for? While Tom Silverstein and Bob McGinn go on summer vacation, there are only two outlets that deliver top notch Packer Packers insight: Bill Huber at Packer Report and cheeseheadtv.com. So far, the writing of Tyler Dunne - the new writer for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - has been first class and I'm excited to read more. Sure, there is an enormous quantity of fluffy Packers information available, but quality information is hard to find. Don't sleep on CheeseheadTV.***
Ted Thompson has built his Green Bay Packers rosters through the accumulation of draft picks, raging the undrafted Free Agent pool and locking up his superstars prior them hitting the Free Agent market. Don't think XLV will alter his philosophy. Thompson entered the 2011 draft with 8 picks. He left with 10. Prior to FA starting, Thompson locked up Desmond Bishop, T-Mon, and AJ Hawk. Thus, if history continues, the futures of Cullen Jenkins, Brandon Jackson, Daryn Colledge and James Jones will not be in Green Bay unless there is an extreme discount attached to the contract.
Even if a discount is attached to the contract, it's important to remember that Ted Thompson values the NFL Draft. Clearly, he cherishes draft picks. He relishes the opportunity to scout young talent. And after compensatory picks are handed out next year, it's not unfathomable to believe the Packers could have as many as FOUR - yes, FOUR - compensatory picks. Thompson has always had his eye on the future. He's planned for something like this. He wants to infest the development of this roster with a continued youthful exuberance. Thompson is salivating over the notion of multiple picks that can be found in abundance without tarnishing his current roster depth. In fact, we're built for this to occur. And since compensatory picks cannot be traded, Thompson will have his other picks to potentially use as ammunition to trade up and win the middle rounds of the draft.
It's conceivable to think the Packers could lose as many as 11 players via Free Agency without adding anyone from another roster. Cullen Jenkins, Ras-A-tari, B-Jack, James Jones, Daryn Colledge, Jason Spitz, Anthony Smith, Korey Hall, Matt Wilhelm, Brett Swain, and Spencer Havner. I'm writing this under the assumption that the Packers re-sign Crosby and Kuhn. I can't see either of them going anywhere. Though, with Kuhn, I suppose anything is possible.
For the record, I don't know the science associated with providing teams with compensatory picks. What I do know is that Colin Cole had 48 tackles in 16 games in 2009. Decent stats. Due to his performance, the Packers were awarded with a 5th round pick.
Wherever Jenkins signs, if he stays healthy, he's sure to make an immediate impact and the Packers would likely receive a 4th round pick in return. If you've followed this blog, you know I think Cullen Jenkins a total star. But, Thompson has positioned himself well with the likes of Mike Neal and CJ Wilson to replace. Additionally, Dom Capers' wide variety of defensive packages would ease the departure.
James Jones would start on most rosters. Most teams have less offensive talent than the Packers. Therefore, it's not inconceivable for Jones to have a 65-70 catch year. If so, he'd likely be a 4th or a 5th round compensatory pick. There is WR depth in Titletown. It's hard to imagine Jones returning.
Daryn Colledge has started every game for 3 years. He plays through pain. He'll likely play 16 games for someone else next year. Assuming he plays at the level Colledge has played throughout his career, that should warrant a 4th or 5th round pick. I would like to sign Colledge. But, it'd have to come at a discounted rate. Thompson has built a roster with the likes of TJ Lang, Dietrich-Smith, McDonald, and Schlauderaff to compete for this starting LG position. Look for Sherrod and Newhouse to also get reps at Guard. Losing Colledge would be the scariest of our Free Agents to depart as the Packers don't have a proven replacement.
Brandon Jackson is a durable third round back who has a pension for protecting the QB. He'll be on someone's roster in 2011. Assuming it's not the Packers and that he performs like B-Jack has throughout his career, he'll garner approximately a 6th round pick. The Packers have Grant, Starks, Green, Nance, and Quinn Johnson in the backfield already. I foresee Kuhn being brought back. Thompson will sign an undrafted FA.
Jason Spitz is likely to sign elsewhere. If he stays healthy, it wouldn't surprise me if Spitz starts 16 games. That could also net the Packers a 6th or a 7th round pick.
Ras-A-tari has been injury filled since his breakout 2007 year. He won't be back in the Green & Gold. With Burnett, Nintendo Nick, and Charlie Peprah on the roster, Bigby will not get playing time with the Pack. So, he's gone. Again, if healthy, he's a good candidate to start somewhere, which could generate a 6th or a 7th round pick.
Korey Hall, Anthony Smith, and Brett Swain have all shown special teams ability. Hall has also done an average job at playing FB. Swain has also shown glimpses of being a capable 3rd or 4th WR. With the addition of Cobb, that's one less WR roster spot. Also, remember my Chastin West prediction! I also envision Thompson targeted undrafted FA's at the WR position. Last year, we grabbed Anthony Smith for a 7th round pick. It's unlikely that he'll get much attention and it's possible that he'll return to Green Bay, but should the Packers not being interested, Smith will be on an NFL Roster in 2011. Should the Packers lose all 3, it's possible we'd get a 7th as compensation.
If my calculations are correct, Thompson will be loaded with draft picks in the 5th-7th rounds. Can you imagine a draft in which Ted Thompson has 11 picks? He can.
Get your popcorn ready. Free Agency is coming. It's going to be fast. It's going to be furious. While other teams raid the Packers roster, Thompson will be targeting the undrafted market. And, as Packers fans, we're all comfortable with that.