So far, Packers win in Walker trade

Dealing unhappy receiver for three picks best for Packers

How to judge the Javon Walker trade? Of course, it's an impossible question to answer, because the verdicts on the players obtained for the picks general manager Ted Thompson gained in the deal will not be rendered for a year or two, at the earliest. Still, if you're the Packers, and your roster has more holes than a closet full of suits taste-tested by a swarm of hungry moths, getting three players in exchange for one talented receiver with one heck of a questionable future is one heck of a victory.

To be sure, Brett Favre has to be wondering who in the heck he's going to be throwing the ball to next season. Donald Driver is a superb talent, but Robert Ferguson? Rod Gardner? Some rookie out of one of those directional schools in Michigan? Almost makes you wonder if Favre will change his mind sometime between now and the start of minicamp.

Nonetheless, the Packers are a better team today than they were yesterday – and they'll be a better team by late Sunday then they are today -- and that's the whole point of this. Thompson had turned seven picks into 11 by the end of Day 1 of the draft, and while it's not turning water into wine, it's not a bad start. By the close of business Sunday, Thompson will have turned those 11 picks into 15, or possibly have woven straw into gold.

"I'm not opposed to trading up," Thompson said. "It just hasn't worked out that way."

No, Thompson isn't Midas, but he used a Midas-like touch in turning the petulant Walker into a few players who actually will be happy to wear the green and gold, and not ask for a pay raise the next time he walks and chews gum without tearing up a knee.

More isn't necessarily better, of course, but if the draft is a crapshoot, then if you take enough shots at the target, you might find the bull's-eye once. Some of these 11 or 12 or 15 players might be nothing more than special-teamers, but even they would be an upgrade over the cast of misfits that filled Mike Sherman's final Packers roster.

Of course, the long-term impact of drafting Walker will not be based on who the Packers will land in this draft as much as the impact Walker will make in Denver.

Sure, it would have been nice had the Packers landed something more than a single second-round pick for the former Pro Bowler. Then again, how do you trade a player who's demanding a new contract and is coming off a major knee injury? There's no guarantee Walker will even approach his former prolific self, just as there's no guarantee Walker won't return to his former prowess and be a game-changing wide receiver for the next decade. If Walker becomes the superstar he appeared he'd become, then no amount of picks would have been enough. If that injury limits Walker for the rest of his career, then a second-round pick is a steal.

Either way, unloading Walker for a few draft picks sure beats having a Mike McKenzie-like Walker hanging around for a year and poisoning the atmosphere, rehabbing his bulky knee on the Packers' dime, and then escaping Green Bay the second free agency starts in 11 months. Nobody knows if any of the guys involved in the Walker trade will be the second coming of Antonio Freeman or Arturo Freeman, but something is better than nothing, even if the Packers had traded Walker for a couple of sweaty T-shirts and mismatched socks.

The Mike McCarthy era deserves a clean slate, and Walker would have done nothing but fill that slate with grafitti. So good-bye, J-Walk, and thanks for one year of memories. Hello, new guys, and the hope of a bright future.

Steve Lawrence is a regular contributor to Contact him via e-mail at

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