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Football Sex Personified: Stalking Green Bay’s Ted Thompson (Part 1)

ted-thompson-podium-2014

I admire Ted Thompson because he builds teams that regularly contend. I specifically like him because he builds his teams through the draft. Rarely does he spend big in free agency, refusing to overpay for someone else’s veterans.

Yes, he signed Charles Woodson to a seven-year $52M contract in 2006—but in retrospect we can see that Thompson was an opportunist who saw a mispriced asset, acquired it, and was handsomely rewarded when its true value was realized: After all, less than $8M/year to lock in an All-Pro difference-making safety for seven years isn’t all that much. And Thompson’s still at it, stealing Julius Peppers from a division rival for less than $9M/year. To add to a moribund defense a big pass-rushing force who’s averaged over 10 sacks/year for the last a decade, that price is a steal.

And not only does Thompson refuse to overpay someone else’s players, he even refuses to overpay his players. Greg Jennings? James Jones? Gone and gone. In fact, Thompson often shrewdly locks his emerging players into team-friendly extensions way before they hit the open market, ensuring that the Packers keep their assets and save money in the process. Want proof? Just consider that Jordy Nelson is in the last year of a four-year $14M contract (which he signed in the middle of his 2011 breakout campaign)—and that’s for a WR who, when healthy, has been a top receiver in the league for the last three years.

Basically, Thompson is a guy who’s so value-driven that he probably views underwear not purchased at a secondhand store as a waste of money—if he even wears underwear—which he probably doesn’t—because he’s Football Sex Personified.

All of this is to say that Ted Thompson is a dude worth stalking. Metaphorically.1 Why? Because when he makes decisions, the fantasy world moves.

Justin Winn recently looked at GB’s WRs and suggested that, based on their 2014 and 2015 prospects, Davante Adams is a buy, Jordy Nelson is a hold, and Randall Cobb is a sell. Here, in Part 1, I want to build on Winn’s work and review the GB WR situation—since this group inherently seems to produce viable fantasy starters—and in Part 2 I want to look at Thompson’s record, stalk his tracks as it were, to see if his past actions may give us any indication as to what he might do with his WR group in the future. A good deal of this will be descriptive—but I think, like all good narratives, this one will be instructive.

Here’s a table that summarizes the relevant information for the veteran WRs on the Packers who are actually signed to something other than reserve contracts:

Name

Rookie Year

Round

Pick

2014 Age

Ht

Wt

2015

2016

Best Finish

Jordy Nelson

2008

2

36

29

75

217

FA

??

2

Randall Cobb

2011

2

64

24

70

192

FA

??

18

Jarrett Boykin

2012

Und

Und

25

74

218

RFA

??

55

Myles White

2013

Und

Und

24

72

182

$585,000

RFA

162

Chris Harper

2013

4

123

25

73

228

$585,000

RFA

NA

Kevin Dorsey

2013

7

224

24

73

207

$585,000

$675,000

NA

As you can see, Thompson entered the 2014 Draft with only one veteran WR signed into the 2016 season—and that guy was a seventh-round 2013 flyer who spent his rookie season on IR. Is it any surprise that Thompson drafted 3 WRs this year?

Firstly, drafting WRs this year gives him a safety net if he loses one or more of his top WRs to free agency in 2015. Secondly, and more importantly, the influx of rookie WRs enables Thompson to make one or more of his top WRs expendable. Not only does he now have more bargaining power—“Go ahead and leave, I don’t need you, but I wouldn’t mind keeping you at a discount”2—but Thompson also has the ability to refuse to sign one or more of his top WRs if he wants to—“Go ahead and leave, I don’t need you, and I actually mean that.”3 In other words, drafting three WRs this year wasn’t just a defensive gesture. It was also—and I would say primarily—an offensive tactic. Ted Thompson is stockpiling young guns for a future war, and his enemy will be any free agent WR with an inflated market value or sense of self.

Let’s look at those young guns.

Name

Rookie Year

Round

Pick

2014 Age

Ht

Wt

2015

2016

Best DR

Davante Adams

2014

2

53

22

73

212

Signed

Signed

40.74

Jared Abbrederis

2014

5

176

24

73

195

Signed

Signed

37.08

Jeff Janis

2014

7

236

23

75

219

Signed

Signed

55.1

OK, as of writing, Adams is still unsigned, but he’ll be signed soon. Get that bee out of your technicality bonnet. Moving on . . .

I don’t know if you noticed this—but these three WRs basically look like replacement versions of GB’s current top WRs. I think all three of them can play in the NFL. I have lurved Adams since he was in college, when I said this:

I grant that he plays in an offense that may inflate his stats, but maybe an NFL team with a statistically-inflated (read: awesome) offense will see what he’s done in a prolific collegiate system and draft him because he seems like a good fit.

It’s almost as if I’m a fantasy football genius—but back to Adams: He’s a red-zone beast, he’s had historic collegiate production, he’s the girl next door, he’s comparable to a lot of productive players, and he’s got a solid prospect report card. Basically, there are no further questions about him.

As far as Abbrederis goes, I’m not crazy about him, but he has a chance to play with Aaron Rodgers, and he’s comparable to some other players who have been serviceable starters.

And regarding Janis—where to begin? I could begin by saying that he’s the White Megatron, he’s a physical freak, he’s a deep receiver, he’s an explosive player, he’s a sleeper to win your rookie draft with, he’s a value investment, and he’s beloved by RotoViz—but instead I’ll begin by saying that, of all the people to talk about him at RotoViz, I literally talked about him first, and then I talked about him again, and then I was the only person on staff crazy enough to pick him over Watkins in our March Madness WR Bracket. What can I say? He’s the next Miles Austin.

I’m not saying that Adama, Abracadabra, and Yannis4 are necessarily Nelson, Cobb, and Boykin’s replacements—but they certainly could be. Either Adams or Janis could conceivably replace Nelson or Boykin, and Abbrederis, though lacking in straight-line speed, certainly has the elite agility and slot game to serve as a usable replacement for Cobb. And I’m not saying that Adams or Janis couldn’t conceivably replace Cobb in the slot—because I think Adams would be frakking awesome in the slot—but I’m just trying to say, “Hey, look, these three as a group could replace those three.”

In Part 2, I’ll look at these WRs in the context of Ted Thompson’s GM habits to explain why I think at least some of the 2014 rookies will replace some of Green Bay’s current veteran WRs.

  1. And maybe literally. Imagine the sports intel you’d (not) receive.  (back)
  2. Donald Driver is nodding his head.  (back)
  3. Footnote: James Jones just punched a wall.  (back)
  4. damn you, autocorrect  (back)
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