Have the Packers done enough?

Green Bay's quiet off-season may be reason why Favre is hesitant

Shortly after the 2005 season concluded for the Green Bay Packers the message quarterback Brett Favre sent to the team in regards to his return was he wanted to talk with his family before making a decision.

In other words, Favre's return was a family decision.

However, later this off-season Favre switched gears and told the Packers his return would be based on how much management improved the team via free agency and the draft. This comment put the onus on GM Ted Thompson.

As we enter April, and the draft is four weeks away, has enough been done to convince Favre 2006 will be much different than 2005?

Overall, the Packers' biggest splash in free agency was signing former St. Louis defensive tackle Ryan Pickett, who has developed into a solid player. Pro Bowler? No, but solid.

Also, the Packers signed Seattle safety Marquand Manuel, who likely rates as an average player in the NFL, and linebacker Ben Taylor (Cleveland), and he might be nothing more than the second coming of Paris Lenon.

On offense, the Packers hardly have changed. They've re-signed running backs Ahman Green and Najeh Davenport to go along with Samkon Gado, and they also retained fullback William Henderson. On the offensive line, nothing has been done. At wide receiver, journeyman Marc Boerigter was signed away from Kansas City, but he's no Javon Walker.

Speaking of Walker, the malcontent is adamant he'll never play in Green Bay again. The second coming of Mike McKenzie? Maybe.

Furthermore, the Packers let kicker Ryan Longwell go and replaced him with Billy Cundiff, who's 73 percent field-goal percentage is almost 10 percent less than Longwell's.

So, just for review, here's what the Packers have done: upgraded the defense somewhat and added a non-game-breaking wide receiver. Also, the kicking game has dropped a little.

I fail to see where the Packers have done enough to convince Favre 2006 will be better. The only way this team gets better in 2006 is it lands a stud with the fifth pick in the first round of the NFL draft. That should happen, although the last time the Packers picked fifth they selected Terrell Buckley instead of Troy Vincent.

Also, the team stays healthy, whereas last season running backs were dropping faster than a quarterback does when a 300-pound defensive lineman goes unblocked.

And, Walker stops his pouting, returns healthy and gives the Packers a huge offensive weapon it lacked all last season.

The problem with all this is we won't know about the fifth pick's impact or the health of the team before the season starts. And even if Walker returns, he needs to prove himself on the field he's back to being a Pro Bowl receiver.

Although this Favre soap opera has lasted longer than anybody imagined, I still want him back for one more year. His legendary status won't be tarnished after last season, but it'd be nice to see him leave with a better season under his belt. That being said, is that possible with the efforts of the Packers this offseason?

An optimist says yes and a pessimist says no. I'm neither in this area, but the direction the Packers are taking makes me think Favre is done. This is solely based on his comments this off-season, and if he sticks to his words that will happen.

The Lions will not have Joey Harrington back at quarterback, leaving him available. What about the Packers as his new team?

Sounds crazy the way he's played, but if Favre retires wouldn't a player with his experience be a solid backup to Aaron Rodgers? Harrington needs to rebuild his reputation and this could be a situation which suits him perfectly. Green Bay has no backup plan that we know of if Favre retires, so it's possible Harrington would be a target.

Harrington wouldn't be saddled with the pressure he dealt in Detroit and sometimes when less is expected players shine.

Something to keep an eye on.

Doug Ritchay

Editor's note: Doug Ritchay is a regular contributor to PackerReport.com. E-mail him at dritchay@sbcglobal.net.

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