The rumors about the Packers being more active in free agency have a lot of people excited. Of course, we all know that Packers’ GM Ted Thompson rarely gets his feet wet in the initial frenzy where most of the game-changers go and many are overpaid and underperform. Much of the talk before the FA period has to do with cap space and where the team could better spend its money, to the extent that, there has even been speculation that the Packers could get rid of one of their stars. But there is one, basic aspect of the Packers cap distribution that speaks volumes as to where the team is at and why we continue to get close without getting back to the Big Dance.
The heart and soul of the Packers is and will be for the near future, Aaron Rodgers. The distribution of the Packers’ cap reflects that, but, at the same time, the defensive troubles of recent years are reflected in the team’s expenditures as well. According to overthecap.com, the Packers spend almost 75 million dollars on the offense, while spending barely more than 48 million dollars on the defense. The one big time paid player for the Packers defense is Clay Matthews who has struggled to be available and been ineffective when he did play, doing little more than take up blockers and pave the way for other players to make plays.
Total cap liabilities: $134,988,706
While keep Aaron Rodgers happy and in Green Bay is priority one, this cap distribution signals two things for the Packers defense:
- They lack superstars
- They rely on young players on r0okie contracts
This reality underscores the corresponding difficulties the Packers have had on defense. Especially in a season in which Sam Shields was unavailable, the Packers, while doing well with draft picks and getting Julius Peppers at a very reasonable price, have to be willing to pay defensive players if they want to go all the way.
In an offense driven league, more and more it will be offenses that win championships. But teams have to be able to stop high-powered offenses from time to time if they want to be the last team standing. The Packers cut Shields and an unbiased view would seem to indicate that Clay Matthews is overpaid.
If this team wants to get over the hump, they are going to have to be willing to spend some money on their defense. The free agent market this year has a couple of options that could really help the team. Will they get a deal done with one of these guys? That depends on whether they are willing to spend the money.
If Ted Thompson opens the purse strings this off-season, the Packers could be right back in it. If not, we will likely be relying on draftees and undrafted free-agents once again to help the team bring the Lombardi back home.