Everybody's happy

While other teams across the National Football League have star players holding out of training camp in contract disputes, the Green Bay Packers don't have that problem this season, which is a credit to Ted Thompson, says PackerReport.com's Dylan Tomlinson.

It's almost impossible to keep an entire roster of football players happy. But this year, Ted Thompson has done a pretty good job of doing just that.

For the first time in what seems like ages, the Green Bay Packers were able to open training camp with all of their draft picks signed and without a single veteran bitching about their contract.

In 2004, it was cornerback Mike McKenzie who refused to show up for training camp. McKenzie didn't show up until Week 2 of the season before eventually being dealt to the New Orleans Saints.

In 2005, it was receiver Javon Walker who was unhappy with his contract. Walker showed up for camp on time, but was injured in the season opener. After missing the rest of the season, Walker demanded to be traded and was, to the Denver Broncos.

For most of last season, cornerback Al Harris complained about his contract. This time, Thompson was smart and decided that it was in the team's best interest to keep one of his best players happy even though he was still under contract for a few more seasons. Rather than lose another one of the team's best players, Thompson wisely gave Harris a significant raise.

Thompson also was thinking ahead to the 2008 free agency class when he made sure linebacker Nick Barnett was locked up for the considerable future. By signing Barnett early, the Packers won't have to deal with the nagging questions about whether one of their most productive young players will be back next season.

It might not sound like much, but just ask the Chicago Bears, the New England Patriots, the New York Giants or the Kansas City Chiefs what it's like to have the looming distraction when one of their best players is missing valuable training camp time while holding out for a bigger payday.

The Chicago Bears may be coming off a Super Bowl appearance, but the bulk of the news this off-season has centered on Lance Briggs, their disgruntled Pro Bowl linebacker, who has demanded to be traded.

The New England Patriots may be the early favorites to win the Super Bowl, but right now they are without one of their top defensive players as playoff hero Asante Samuel refuses to sign his franchise tender.

The New York Giants opened camp without defensive end Michael Strahan, who has threatened to retire if he doesn't get a new contract. Even Larry Johnson, one of the NFL's best running backs the last two seasons, is a no-show at Chiefs' camp. It's a safe bet that not a day will pass when any of those aforementioned teams aren't asked about their disgruntled superstars.

Other teams continue to struggle to get all of their draft picks signed on time, which is what makes Thompson's ability to get all of the Packers picks signed all the more impressive.

Unfortunately, contract holdouts have become part of the game. Fortunately, it's not something the Packers have to deal with this season.

Dylan Tomlinson

Dylan Tomlinson is a frequent contributor to PackerReport.com and Packer Report magazine. E-mail him at dylan1226@gmail.com.

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