Are the Packers one player away?

Moss would have been interesting to watch, but the Packers still need playmakers at other positions

As it stands today, the New England Patriots are the favorite in the National Football League to win it all next season. They capped off a busy off-season of free agent acquisitions by trading for Randy Moss on Sunday.

Moss may be the final link for the Patriots to contend for a Super Bowl title this season. Of course, the Patriots may also wind up like the Washington Redskins, who have spent millions on name-brand veterans only to lose. But the Patriots also have Tom Brady.

Anyway, many Packers fans are disappointed that Moss didn't wind up in Green Bay. Many feel he would have given the Packers an instant playmaker on offense and possibly help them win the NFC North Division.

Possibly, but probably not. At this point, the Packers need more than one playmaker to help them contend for the division title and go deep into the playoffs. They need multiple playmakers. It is obvious that Green Bay is content to allow younger players audition for the role of playmaker at running back, wide receiver, punt and kickoff returner, and safety.

Loading up with veteran free agents is one way to attempt to win a Super Bowl. Building through the draft is another way, and the Packers, under Ted Thompson, have opted to re-build through the draft since 2005 with a total of 34 selections.

Obtaining the aging Moss would have been interesting. He still has the capability to be a good receiver – when he wants do. That's also the danger of Moss. He plays when he wants to, and only if the conditions are right for him. He's the ultimate ‘me' guy. Do the Packers really need that kind of a player on the team? A guy who abruptly hung up on the Patriots media during a conference call on Sunday? I don't think so.

When the news broke Sunday that Moss was traded from Oakland to New England, it was a bittersweet moment in this corner. Moss, entering his 10th NFL season, might have helped the Packers, but he would have only slowed the growth of other players. I stress might because there is nothing to suggest from his last two seasons in Oakland that he can help a younger team like the Packers, even with Brett Favre at quarterback.

The Packers already have Donald Driver and Greg Jennings at wide receiver, along with some up-and-coming receivers in Ruvell Martin and Carlyle Holiday. Who knows? There is always a chance the Robert Ferguson could emerge as well, but he seems headed for the waiver wire because of his injury-riddled past. Still, the Packers selected a pair of receivers, who also are special teams standouts, in the draft, so there is a good chance that a playmaker or two should emerge behind Driver and Jennings.

In all reality, Thompson used last weekend's draft to bolster special teams, where the team has stunk for several seasons. The Packers must improve in punt and kickoff returns as well as their coverage units. Not only this season, but in years to come, so they need playmakers to emerge from those units.

The Packers lost Ahman Green in free agency this season, and it would have been nice if they could have completed a trade with Kansas City for Larry Johnson. It didn't happen, so, for now, they will have to lean on Vernand Morency or Noah Herron or Arliss Beach or P.J. Pope or Brandon Jackson to emerge. None of the above are bonafide playmakers yet, but they all will have a chance. Keep on eye on Beach, who had a good training camp last year before getting injured.

Green Bay drafted safety Aaron Rouse to compete against Marquand Manuel, who will be given every chance to prove that he is better than he was last year. But they took Rouse more for special teams than to unseat Manuel. If that happens, great, but they need Rouse to down returners first, which he did at Virginia Tech.

Most fans agree that the Packers are an up-and-coming team. They should improve on their record from last year and contend for a spot in the NFC playoffs. Are they a Super Bowl contender? No. Would they have been a Super Bowl contender with Moss? No. The Packers need multiple playmakers and, with any luck, some younger players will emerge this season, just like A.J. Hawk, Greg Jennings, and Cullen Jenkins did last year. Next off-season will be a better time for the Packers to sign free agents who might be able to provide an instant impact.

Todd Korth

Todd Korth is managing editor of and Packer Report magazine. E-mail him at

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