I just read a fantastic article by Gregg Rosenthal on NBCSports detailing Ted Thompson and the Packers' rise to the top of the NFC and how they became one of the youngest, most talented teams in the league. If you don't want to read it all, here are some of the parts I found most interesting:
This is very true, especially in the world of high-priced first round draft picks. So many teams need to see results immediately or they grow impatient. It's impressive that Green Bay was willing to see things through.Thompson brought his eye for talent and commitment to drafting and developing players to Seattle. From 2000-2004, he helped Mike Holmgren build the nucleus for their eventual NFC Champion team.
Thompson and Holmgren occasionally clashed because Thompson felt so strongly that he could find better players through the draft than the players Holmgren wanted in free agency. Some teams don't have the patience for it. But Green Bay did.
Thompson set a tone early in his run as G.M. by knowing which veterans to release, and who to keep. He let popular, high-priced guard Marco Rivera leave via free agency and cut guard Mike Wahle. The moves were panned locally at the time, but proved wise.
It’s not that Thompson hates keeping the right veterans. Donald Driver is entering his 12th season in Green Bay, while left tackle Chad Clifton is entering his 11th. Thompson cut high-priced offensive line talent back in 2005, but spent big bucks to bring Clifton back this year to protect Aaron Rodgers. Clifton responded with a strong season.The Woodson signing stands to me as one of the most impactful free agent signings of the past decade as well. To take a shot on a guy with that much talent who had obvious questions about his durability, and to not only have it work out but to see him become a leader for your team is phenomenal.The beating heart of the 2010 Packers comes from their draft picks, but a pair of strategic free agent signings early in Thompson’s tenure helped build the team’s underrated defense.
Thompson gave cornerback Charles Woodson a sizable deal at a time when Woodson’s stock was low coming off a few injury-plagued seasons.
The contract proved to be a bargain; Woodson was one of the best signings in NFL free agency history. When you consider his five years of Packers service, Woodson has nearly made the same impact as Reggie White with the organization. (Heresy in Green Bat, but it’s true.)
Thompson also signed defensive tackle Ryan Pickett to a low-cost deal back in 2006. Like Woodson, Pickett did such a good job that he got another long-term contract in 2010. I can’t overstate how rare it is for a veteran to sign two long-term deals with their second team.
This was one of my favorite bits from the whole article. A stunning statistic. The only thing I've ever seen comparable to this was that on the 2005 Colts Superbowl team, 21 of the 22 starters on offense and defense were drafted by the Colts organization. Those are two teams that are perennially competitive and have solid depth at key positions. It shows that free agency, while important, is not the only way to bulk up a roster. It requires patience.Thompson’s long-term vision was realized with the 2010 Packers. With six years of Thompson drafts on the books, they have premier talent at all the right positions. They have continuity, versatility, and intelligence. They have the depth to withstand 15 players on injured reserve, including six starters.
BusinessInsider.com noted that only 13 percent of Green Bay’s playoff roster was drafted by another team. That was easily the lowest percentage of the four Conference Championship teams. (For reference, 32 percent of the Bears roster was drafted elsewhere.)
His draft record is truly stunning. Every single one of those guys is good, and he has maybe missed on 10% of his picks in his tenure. I'm not a Packers fan but I'm a Ted Thompson fan (childhood friends with my dad. His mom lives across the street from my grandmother), and I am glad to see his hard work finally paying off. He took a lot of flack for the Favre deal and many people questioned him picking Rodgers in 2005. Nobody has anything to say about that now.The overall track record, however, is outstanding. Thompson finds quality role players in the middle rounds like receivers James Jones and Jordy Nelson. A relative “miss” at the top of the draft like linebacker A.J. Hawk still contributes plenty.
Then there are the hits: Defensive tackle B.J. Raji, linebacker Clay Matthews, tight end Jermichael Finley, receiver Greg Jennings, guard Josh Sitton, safety Nick Collins, tackle Bryan Bulaga, running back James Starks, and, of course, Rodgers.
Full article: http://nbcsports.msnbc.com/id/413798...per_bowl_xlv//
Side note: If there is a rookie wage scale implemented in the new CBA, do you think we will see teams slowly become more intent on building through the draft where their payrolls are more able to sustain patient progress? The impact of rookie "busts" will go down majorly if the amount of money spent on them is cut in half or a third.