Thompson did what he had to do

Packers GM Ted Thompson made a wise but difficult decision by refusing to get into a bidding war with Houston for Ahman Green,'s Steve Lawrence says.

The e-mails from antsy Packers fans read like a broken record. "When is Ted Thompson going to do something?"

Thompson did do something. He declined to get into a bidding war with the Houston Texans over running back Ahman Green.

Short term, losing Green is a blow. Beyond Green's production, Brett Favre no doubt will be thinking a bit harder about blitz protection this coming season. Long term, Thompson undoubtedly made the right move.

Green will make $12.5 million during the first two years of his four-year, $23 million contract. I'm no math major, but that works out to $6.25 million in those first two seasons.

Comparing 2006 salary numbers to 2007 numbers is a bit like comparing apples to oranges because of how the salary cap expanded this offseason, but it's instructive nonetheless.

Green's first-year pay is $8 million. Only Edgerrin James made more among running backs last season. Green's two-year average of $6.25 million puts him behind only James, now-retired Tiki Barber and league MVP LaDainian Tomlinson.

Obviously, Green's a fine player, but that kind of money is ridiculous considering his injury history and the type of runner he is.

Green is 30, but, unless he's a freak of nature, he's an old 30. He suffered a season-ending injury to his thigh in 2005. While he bounced back to top 1,000 yards last season, he only rarely showed the trademark explosion that made him such a feared back a few years ago.

Beyond that, Green is a sledgehammer on two legs. Never one to avoid contact, Green would rather run over a defender then try to run away from him, and longtime NFL fans will remember what that style did to Earl Campbell. He went from great to mediocre in seemingly no time at all.

Green touched the ball 22.3 times per game in 14 games last season. That's down from the 25.3 touches per game during his record-breaking 2003 season. Despite a lightened workload, however, Green averaged 4.0 yards per carry, including 3.2 during the final four games of the season. During that same season-ending stretch, Vernand Morency averaged 6.1 yards per rush.

Now, a few things could explain the disparity. An obvious one, though, is Green was worn down. Surely, Thompson considered that fact before letting the second-leading rusher in franchise history skip town.

So where to from here? The best available back, Travis Henry, just signed with Denver. Two others would have been great options a few years ago: Corey Dillon and Jamal Lewis. Chris Brown, Correll Buckhalter and Dominic Rhodes are available, too, and they might be OK splitting time with Morency.

Most teams have their running back now, so the guess here is Thompson will wait for the draft and hope California's Marshawn Lynch is waiting at No. 16. If not, most of the guys available today should be available in a couple months. Or, he can see who's released this summer.

Believe me, Thompson has a plan. He's gone through every possible permutation a million times. When the Packers kick off the season, they'll have a running back. He might not be as good as Green is today, but he'll be a lot cheaper and the Packers will be in better financial straits.

Steve Lawrence is a regular contributor to Send comments to

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