Even with Favre, stay the course

Packers GM Ted Thompson should stick with his blueprint for building the team rather than gambling on a win-now approach to send Favre out on top, PackerReport.com's Steve Lawrence says.

With Brett Favre electing to come back to play quarterback for the Green Bay Packers in 2007, there will be a push among the legions of Green and Gold faithful for general manager Ted Thompson to make an all-out push to build a Super Bowl team.

While sending Favre out on top would provide a fairytale ending and provide the ultimate "thank you" for all Favre has done for the franchise, Thompson would be wise to tune out those fans and stay the course with his building-for-the-long-term plan.

Thompson's approach has built a solid foundation for the team. With Favre in the fold, a playoff berth next season is hardly out of the question. But Thompson shouldn't mortgage a bright future for the sake of trying to send Favre out on top.

Thompson has built this team by turning a few draft picks into many, and by plucking a few free agents to fill holes.

Could Thompson turn an 8-8 team into a Super Bowl champion in the course of one offseason?

Yes. It's been done before.

But, aside from the Week 17 throttling of the nothing-to-play-for Chicago Bears, the Packers failed miserably against the league's better teams. That shows that while the Packers made strides last season, they have a long way to go.

So, while Thompson could try to put the team in position to push for the Super Bowl in the weak NFC, he'd have to be awfully lucky, and as you know, there's no such thing as a sure thing when it comes to the draft and free agency.

Gambling and losing this offseason would set Thompson's plan back, perhaps irreparably. Blowing a high-profile free-agent signing would bruise the team's healthy salary cap. Trading up and putting too many eggs in the first-round basket could lead to a wasted draft class. Too many wasted draft classes led to Mike Sherman's demise and the Packers' fall from elite status.

Luckily for the Packers, Favre isn't the type of player to pressure the organization with a selfish, win-now wish list. Would Favre like to go out on top? Of course, but he seems happy enough to be able to go out on the field every Sunday and compete. It's why Favre flashes a mile-wide grin every time a big play is made, and it's why we love to watch him play.

"I'm excited about playing for a talented, young football team," Favre told the Sun Herald of Biloxi, Miss., in announcing his intention to play in 2007.

Going out with a Super Bowl, a la John Elway, would be the ultimate legacy for Favre. Going out with a playoff berth and helping show this team how to win for years to come wouldn't be too bad of a legacy, either.

Lawrence is a regular contributor to PackerReport.com. Send comments to steve_lawrence_packers@yahoo.com.

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