Thumbs up, thumbs down on GM

Thompson's off-season moves are average to below average, says Packer Report's Todd Korth

Are the Green Bay Packers a better team now than when they finished the 2007 season at the doorstep of the Super Bowl? Many times, transactions that a team makes in the off-season can be a big factor in the success or failure of the team during the regular season.

As the Green Bay Packers prepare to open the season Monday night, let's analyze general manager Ted Thompson's performance this past off-season - the positives and the negatives - from this scribe's point of view:

Favre traded to Jets:
With his back against the wall, Thompson made a great move by dealing Favre to the Jets early in training camp. For most of the off-season Favre left the Packers in a bind with his indecision over retirement and you can't blame the Packers for deciding to move on behind Aaron Rodgers. Quite often, once a team decides to make a move, it won't go back, especially at the all-important position of quarterback.

Favre is in the AFC and won't play the Packers unless the two teams meet in the Super Bowl. While the Packers have a legitimate shot of getting to Tampa, the same cannot be said for the Jets this season. On top of that, the more Favre plays this year, the better the draft pick the Packers receive next April. Go Brett GO!

Not only is it an awesome move by Thompson, but it breathed a new confidence in Rodgers.

Decent draft: The Packers should be able to get contributions from at least four of their draft picks on a consistent basis this season and an undrafted free agent. While none of the Packers' nine picks will be starting on opening day, look for wide receiver Jordy Nelson, tight end Jermichael Finley, guard Josh Sitton, cornerback Pat Lee and running back Kregg Lumpkin to be receiving plenty of playing time. If not for a knee injury, Sitton would be starting at right guard and will have a chance to re-gain his starting role once he returns later this month.

To get production from at almost half of a draft class on a team that is pretty stocked with veterans is a sign of a good draft. Time will tell, of course, but so far, so good for the class of 2008.

Dealing Williams to Cleveland: The general manager made a great move last February by dealing away up-and-coming defensive tackle Corey Williams to the Browns for a second-round pick, which turned out to be quarterback Brian Brohm. Thompson slapped the franchise tag on Williams, then got a second-round pick when most felt that Williams would slip away in free agency.

Jason Taylor opts Redskins:
It would have been nice to see the Packers make a bigger push for Taylor, the Pro Bowl defensive end who signed a deal with the Redskins. He was there for the taking for Green Bay, which is in need of more play-makers along the defensive line, but he got away.

Money isn't an issue. Green Bay is more than $20 million under the salary cap and Thompson decided not to pursue re-signing Williams, so it was frustrating to see the Packers do nothing to re-inforce the defensive end position, especially after the Minnesota Vikings went out and signed all-pro Jared Allen to a mega-deal.

All Packers fans can do now is keep their fingers crossed that Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila will respond positively after undergoing knee surgery last May and missing most of the off-season workouts, and Cullen Jenkins will play better than he did last year.

On the interior of the line, the Packers are relying on Ryan Pickett, Johnny Jolly and Colin Cole to hold the fort, yet Pickett and Jolly were hampered by injuries throughout training camp.

Thompson selected defensive end Jeremy Thompson, but he is far from ready to step in as the main pass-rusher, according to Packers assistant coaches.

Passing on Pacman: I know, he's not Pacman Jones anymore, he's Adam Jones and appears to be on track toward helping the Dallas Cowboys' backfield in a big way. Tennessee traded the troubled Jones to Dallas this off-season.

There was a little hope in this corner that Thompson would make a move to obtain Jones to re-inforce the depth behind Charles Woodson and Al Harris, but it apparently wasn't an issue with Thompson. Afterall, Green Bay is a great place for players to focus on football and not all the distractions that got Jones into trouble in the first place.

Green Bay's secondary depth is decent with Tramon Williams, Will Blackmon and Lee, but it could have been even better with Jones.

Re-signing Grant late: There really was no reason for the Packers not to sign Ryan Grant before the start of training camp. Instead, he missed a week of practices, plus all of the off-season workouts, then injured his hamstring.

Now Grant enters the season without getting tackled once in training camp. That might be OK for a longtime veteran superstar, like Ladainian Tomlinson, but Grant is entering his second full season. All the Packers can do now is keep their fingers crossed and hope that he holds up and produces like last year instead of preparing him better throughout the off-season for what's ahead.

Overall, Thompson was average to below average with his off-season transactions. Unless you are related to reserve linebacker Brandon Chillar, there was no immediate impact, big-splash signing to get Packers fans all fired up. Instead, the Favre saga gripped the Packer Nation and the rest of the football world with Thompson stuck awkwardly in the middle.

Are the Packers better than they were at the end of the 2007 season? On paper, no. They certainly are younger at the quarterback position and weaker along the defensive line. Will they top the 14-4 overall record that they finished with last year? Probably not, and an average to below average off-season by Thompson may ultimately be the reason why.

Todd Korth writes for and Packer Report magazine. E-mail him at

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