Zeroing in on Free-Agent Philosophy

Green Bay, as you might have guessed, is on the extreme end of the player-acquisition spectrum. The Packers were one of only two teams that added less than 1,600 snaps this offseason.

My dad was in the Army. As part of basic training, he’d say the recruits would have to dig a hole, only to fill it right back in.

That’s got to be what it’s like to work on the pro side of the Green Bay Packers’ scouting department. Dig deep into the upcoming class of free agents, only for those reports to fill up general manager Ted Thompson’s trash can.

Last week, ESPN.com posted a chart detailing the offseason turnover by snaps gained and lost for each of the 32 teams. Not surprisingly, the Packers added the fewest snaps in the league with a big, fat zero.

What’s surprising is the context. The Steelers added the next-fewest snaps with 232. Only two other teams added less than 2,200 snaps: St. Louis (1,641) and Baltimore (1,687). Twenty-five teams added more than 3,000 snaps, including 13 with at least 4,000 added snaps.

Last offseason, the Packers added about 1,250 snaps with Julius Peppers and Letroy Guion.

“I think part of it is philosophy and the other part is opportunity and part evaluation,” coach Mike McCarthy said last week. “That’s always the case. I think you have to look at everything, all the opportunities to grow as a team. And this is the path that we usually stay on. And whether we’re on it 100 percent, 95 percent, is really irrelevant to me. I think it gives you confidence in your evaluation process and we feel good about the 90 guys we have here.”

Green Bay wound up losing 3,442 snaps, led by the departures of longtime starters A.J. Hawk and Tramon Williams. If that sounds like a lot, it’s not. Only the Bengals (2,672), Panthers (2,851) and Vikings (3,439) lost fewer snaps than the Packers.

All told, Green Bay’s net loss was, you guessed it, minus-3,442 snaps. That’s the sixth-largest deficit in the NFL. Only four teams acquired more snaps than it sent packing: the Jets (plus-3,975), Bears (plus-762), Raiders (plus-712) and Panthers (plus-181).

Of note, the Lions were minus-2,248 snaps, the Cowboys were minus-1,366 snaps, the Seahawks were minus-1,198 snaps and the Vikings were minus-652 snaps.

Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.


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