Free agency notes

PackerReport.com's Bob Fox offers his thoughts on why the Brandon Chillar signing is surprising, and why Trent Dilfer is good for the Packers

The Green Bay Packers signed their first free agent of the 2008 offseason - LB Brandon Chillar - this week. Chillar was actually the second free agent signed, including OT Joe Toledo.

Chillar will receive more than $3 million in the first year of the two-year deal, according to the Green Bay Press-Gazette. The contract is worth $5.4 million, and Chillar can make another $1 million in incentives, his agent told the Press-Gazette.

Chillar will compete with strong-side OLB Brady Poppinga for the starting spot. The 6-3, 242-pound Chillar, a fourth-round draft choice out of UCLA in 2004, has missed just one game in four years and has been a full-time starter on the strong-side the last two. He had 85 tackles, 2 ½ sacks, three forced fumbles and four passes defended as a two-down linebacker taken off the field on passing downs.

The signing of Chillar was somewhat surprising. Not because the Packers clearly wanted him on the team, but according to his agent Jim Ivler, Chillar could have gotten more money had he re-signed with the St. Louis Rams or signed with the Arizona Cardinals.

"I think ultimately at the end of the day he could have had the ability to get more money elsewhere," Ivler told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "But he was comfortable with what Green Bay had to say and he realizes it's a winning program and a great organization and he wants a chance at the Super Bowl."

"I think I'm going to fit good in their defense," Chillar told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "And in a division that runs the ball a lot. And I like to play the run. I'm excited about next year, and just want to go somewhere where I know I feel appreciated, too."

So what other moves will the Packers make in free agency? In terms of a backup quarterback for Aaron Rodgers, the Packers have brought in Quinn Gray and Gus Frerotte. Packer Report's Harry Sydney may be right about his assertion that Trent Dilfer might be a good fit as backup QB.

Dilfer has a Super Bowl ring. He proved he can manage an offense. Dilfer still has a good arm and comes from from Northern California, like Rodgers. Dilfer also knows the West Coast offense, as he played for Mike Holmgren in Seattle for four years, and would not be a threat to Rodgers in terms of starting.

But he would be a good teammate and has backed up the likes of Matt Hasselbeck and Alex Smith. Dilfer absolutely loved Brett Favre, and once had this to say to Favre after a key Packer win, "I really think the greatest compliment you can get in this league is from your peers," Dilfer said. "I just wanted to tell him he's the best."

I think if the Packers are going to look at guys like Frerotte, Dilfer would be a better fit for Rodgers. The Packers can then utilize the draft to select another young QB to develop. Yes, there are other options out there, like trading for a guy like J.P. Losman. But Ted Thompson hates trading away draft choices, so it would have to be the right deal.

Things have been very quiet in Green Bay concerning free agency. Ted Thompson will keep building this team through the draft. The Packers were the youngest team in the NFL in both 2006 and 2007. The Pack has a chance to go for three in a row, with the Favre retirement and the paged being turned on long snapper Rob Davis. Thompson has had three good drafts in a row in Green Bay. Especially the 2006 draft. The 2005 and 2007 drafts weren't bad, either.

Every once in awhile, Thompson will make a big splash in free agency, like he did in 2006 when he signed DT Ryan Pickett and CB Charles Woodson. The upper echelon of free agents have already been signed in 2008. The next wave of free agents are getting picked off as well, including Chillar.

Thompson will utilize free agency if he feels that player is a good fit and affordable. But Thompson will always use the draft build a team. So far, he has a pretty nice foundation being built in Green Bay.


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