If history is any indication ...

Thompson can learn from Wolf regarding possible Taylor trade

Ron Wolf did a masterful job acquiring all the pieces for the powerful Packers teams of the mid-1990s. Wolf first hired Mike Holmgren as head coach, then traded for Brett Favre and then signed Reggie White as a free agent.

Wolf also was very adept in the draft, especially in the mid to later rounds, and also acquired other key free agents. That scenario ended up getting the Packers in the playoffs six straight years, three straight NFC Central crowns, three straight NFC Championship appearances, two straight Super Bowl appearances and an NFL title.

Wolf was never afraid to trade for a player, as the first round pick he gave up for Favre in 1992 would indicate. Late in his Green Bay tenure, Wolf also traded for Ahman Green, who had a great career as Packer, finishing second to only Jim Taylor in career rushing yardage. In between, Wolf made another trade, one that would possibly be the impetus of the Packers rise to championship glory.

After the 1994 season, Wolf had to deal with the fact that Sterling Sharpe's career was over because of a neck injury. Sharpe was the obvious main weapon in the Packer offense that Favre would throw to in clutch situations. Sharpe was all-pro four times during his short career, and had also been named to five Pro Bowls.

Wolf hoped that others such as Robert Brooks would help cushion that blow. Brooks indeed had a very nice career in Green Bay, albeit somewhat short because of a devastating knee injury. Wolf was looking for another weapon. TE Keith Jackson was holding out on the Miami Dolphins in 1995. Jackson also had only one year remaining on his contract. Wolf still pulled the trigger acquiring Jackson for a second round draft choice.

Jackson was not enamored with Green Bay at first because he didn't like cold weather. However, Jackson changed his mind as the Packer front office and friends such as White, who was Jackson's former teammate in Philadelphia spurned him on. Jackson would also get a chance to play with one of the best up and coming quarterbacks in the NFL in Favre. Jackson knew a little about playing with great quarterbacks, as he had played with Dan Marino for three years in Miami.

After finally coming aboard the Packer ship six games into the 1995 season, Jackson made an impact, as Favre now had two tight end threats with Jackson and Mark Chmura. Jackson made his biggest impact in the playoffs after the 1995 season, when Jackson had a huge game in a monumental 27-17 upset of the 49ers in San Francisco.

Though Jackson was a free agent in 1996, Wolf was able to re-sign Jackson after he had a taste of what might lie ahead for this team. Jackson had a Pro Bowl year in 1996 with 40 catches and 10 touchdowns. Jackson was a key reason why the Packers were able to hoist the Lombardi trophy after Super Bowl XXXI.

Ted Thompson has a similar situation in 2008. The Packers were one step away from getting to the Super Bowl last year. Almost the whole team is returning, but a huge gap is gone with the Favre retirement earlier this year. Aaron Rodgers appears ready to be the new man at QB, after his preseason work in 2007, and the great game he had against Dallas in the 2007 regular season.

Thompson is looking for the defense to carry a big load for the team in 2008. The defense will have to be as dominant as possible, as Rodgers has a tough task in replacing Favre, and keeping the Packer offense at an elite level. The defense also needs help, as the defensive line has had injuries, plus the team lost Corey Williams in a trade.

That is why Thompson inquired to the Dolphins about acquiring Taylor. Ironically, Wolf might be a player in this possible trade. Wolf is very close to Bill Parcells, who now runs the entire Dolphins franchise as executive vice president of football operations. Wolf is also the mentor of Thompson, and he was the one who hired Thompson in 1992 in Green Bay.

There a couple of other reasons why Taylor might like the situation in Green Bay, besides the fact that the team is a definite contender for the Super Bowl. The defensive coordinator of the Packers is Bob Sanders and the defensive line coach for the Packers is Robert Nunn. Taylor played under both coaches during his time in Miami.

Taylor would also be a bookend to another Pro Bowl DE in Aaron Kampman if the trade happened. The defensive tackles would then be Cullen Jenkins, who would slide over from DE, and Ryan Pickett. There are other talented players on the defense as well with players like Nick Barnett, A.J. Hawk, Al Harris and Charles Woodson.

Speaking of Woodson, if the Packers get permission to talk to Taylor, Woodson would be a great reference. Woodson was Thompson's key free agent acquisition over the last couple of years. He has had two great years in Green Bay since his signing, and he has become a regular in working out in Green Bay. Head coach Mike McCarthy has been very flexible in terms of of dealing with veterans for workouts and the OTA's.

That might be a key ingredient in acquiring Taylor. Sources close to Taylor say that he wants to play in a warm-weather location. He also has his sights set on a career in Hollywood after his NFL career is over, and he has also been working on Dancing with the Stars. Taylor also wants to play only one more year.

These are certainly obstacles that may impede Thompson in acquiring Taylor. But there are also many reasons why Taylor should consider playing in Green Bay, like the team's playoff status, his former coaches, and several very talented players. Thompson should attempt to persuade the Dolphins and Taylor that is in his best interests to come to Green Bay, just like Wolf did in 1995 with Jackson.

Taylor, 33, still has a lot of tread left on his tires. He has 117 career sacks, has been all-pro four times, was a six-time Pro Bowl selection and was the NFL defensive player of the year in 2006. But like Jackson did in 1995, Taylor yearns for a Super Bowl ring. The Dolphins have been a terrible team the last couple of years. They are rebuilding now under Parcells, but Taylor doesn't want to invest the time he has remaining in the NFL there.

The Packers can get the right deal with the Dolphins. The Fins wanted a first round pick for Taylor at the time of the 2008 NFL draft and now are asking for a second round pick. Perhaps with Wolf's help, a deal can be struck that will be acceptable to both teams, because Thompson just hates to trade draft picks. The Packers should be able to convince Taylor to play for two more years. The Packers have plenty of cap space to work out an agreeable deal in terms of compensation. McCarthy has proven that he works well with veterans.

Thompson just needs to reflect on the bold move that his mentor Wolf made in 1995 acquiring Jackson. There were a lot of obstacles to get worked out, but in time, everything worked out just fine. Both Wolf and Jackson won the Lombardi Trophy. Jackson retired after the 1996 championship season, but the trade was well worth it. Just ask Wolf.

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