Since they say that three is the magic number – why am I making a “Schoolhouse Rock” reference? I wasn’t even born when that show was on – here are some thoughts on the three biggest Green Bay Packers-related news items of the day.
- Report: Ryan Pickett to be franchised if new deal not reached by Thursday
Jason La Canfora of the NFL Network reported Tuesday that the Packers plan to use the franchise tag on Pickett if the two sides can not reach a new contract agreement by Thursday (the deadline to place franchise and transition tags on players).
Tagging Pickett would cost the Pack just over $7 million for the 2010 season. My best guess, though, is that Green Bay is just placing the tag on him so it can be sure Pickett has no shot to hit the open market (where he would be snapped up in about two seconds). The Packers likely want him back and just want some more time to iron out a long-term deal. And based on what Pickett has said so far – he likes Green Bay as a city and is excited about being on a team on the rise, for example - I think he really wants to be back.
This is not, as ESPN’s Kevin Seifert suggests, similar to what they did with Corey Williams after the 2007 season (i.e., franchising Pickett in the hopes of then trading him). Williams didn’t want to come back to Green Bay and the Packers really didn’t want to pay him (as it turned out, a smart move on their part).
Surely the team knows Pickett’s value. He’s shown a rare versatility for the position in that he can play d-tackle in a 4-3 and nose in a 3-4. He’s played through injuries, almost always brings his best effort each and every week and was one of the top reasons this team had the NFL’s top run defense last season. Plus, he’s still fairly young – set to turn 31 in October – for a position where guys can play until their late 30s (Pat Williams is still going strong at 37 and Ted Washington played until he was 39).
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: There’s no way Pickett is not back in Green Bay next season. A deal will be reached.
- LaDainian Tomlinson’s release brings speculation that he will land in Green Bay
One of the best running backs in league history, Tomlinson, saw his nine-year career in San Diego end Monday as he was released by the team. Speculation has run rampant as to where Tomlinson will end up, with some putting the Packers as a leading candidate.
On paper, it makes sense for them to say that. Tomlinson said Monday that he wants to go to a team with both an elite quarterback and a realistic shot to make it to the Super Bowl next season. As of now, it’s fair to say the Packers have both those qualities. Plus, Tomlinson won’t ask for much money and is at least saying all the right things about not needing to be the top back wherever he lands.
When you stand back and look at it, though, it’s hard to see why the Packers would want him. First, how many 30-year old free agents has Ted Thompson even gone after, let alone signed? You can count that on one hand with less than five fingers.
Also, the Packers already have a clear No. 1 in Ryan Grant (p.s., no way I’d trade him to San Diego for Antonio Cromartie) and Brandon Jackson has settled in to the role of pass catcher/blitz buster rather nicely. What role does Tomlinson then play? Short yardage/occasional pass catcher? Maybe, but to put him in that role would be to take touches away from Jackson. I’d rather give those touches to 24-year old Jackson than 30-year old Tomlinson. I’m weird like that. And yes, he’s saying the right things now, but I have a hard time believing Tomlinson will fully be able to sublimate his ego, especially if his new team struggles out of the gate.
When you add it all up, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for Green Bay to go after him. I also might be the only guy who still thinks Ahman Green should be brought back. Why is everyone dogging a backfield of Grant, Jackson and Green? Teams have won Super Bowls with less.
- Bruce Campbell or Brandon Graham at No. 23 for the Pack?
On a conference call with reporters Tuesday, NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said he thinks either Maryland offensive tackle Bruce Campbell or Michigan outside linebacker Brandon Graham could go to the Packers in the first round at pick No. 23, according to the Green Bay Press Gazette.
Mayock said Campbell, while not very aggressive and not great as a run blocker, is a very good pass protector who perhaps should have stayed in school one more year. The more I read up on Campbell, the more I like. He appears to have solid footwork and is very light on his feet (well, for being 6-feet, 7-inches and 310 pounds, anyways). He’d be a good fit in the current zone blocking scheme. As for the lack of aggression, that stuff can always be worked on. Plus, as we learned with Allen Barbre, aggression doesn’t mean much if you can’t actually play. He’d likely be a top 10 pick if he went back to Maryland for one more year, so if the Packers can get him at 23 this year, maybe they should do just that. A list of the top 50 available players this year, posted on Sports Illustrated’s site Tuesday, has Campbell at No. 9.
As for Graham, Mayock pointed to his short stature (6-feet, 1-inch) and small arms as reasons he could fall a little bit. On the positive, he pointed to Graham’s high-motor and strong Senior Bowl performance. I am not in favor of Graham being the pick at all. People keep saying the team needs to upgrade at the other OLB spot and I’m not sure why. Brad Jones, as a seventh-round pick who spent more than half the year on the bench, came in and performed well enough. Was he exposed a bit later on? Maybe, but with a full offseason to learn the position and grow physically, Jones could become a very nice player next season. The pressing needs at o-line and corner must be addressed before the team drafts another OLB. That’s a very frivolous move, in my mind.