“Timing is Everything” Peyton Manning’s Retirement Speech and Ted Thompson

Posted by  Brady Augustine   in  ,      1 year ago     95 Views     Leave your thoughts  

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Ted ThompsonOne of the throughlines of Peyton Manning’s retirement speech was “timing”, and GM’s like Ted Thompson could benefit from that call. Free agency is here and Packers fans are looking for something…anything to happen this time around. But there is a sweet spot in free agency and while it is often not waiting until every good player is gone, it also is not usually found in jumping on the first tier of free agents either.

There is one bargaining skill that Ted Thompson apparently has in spades…and it is an important one. But sometimes you can have too much of a good thing. It all comes down to timing, just like Peyton said. Can the Packers find that sweet spot? We will see, but first let’s talk about that bargaining skill that Ted Thompson excels at and it is an important one.

Most Dangerous Substance on Earth - Packer Offense

The power of silence

There is one life skill (among many) that most great leaders, from quarterbacks to salespeople, auditors, to the leader of the free world have in common. Leaders are comfortable with discomfort. It is the most underrated life skill (mostly unknown) out there and it has practical application for every reader of this post and ever person in every position. If you have ever had a job in which you are regularly audited, your trainer should have taught you to be comfortable with discomfort…auditors use the power of silence to get people to say more than they should. Silence is extremely uncomfortable for most everyone and auditors know that. Silence puts pressure on anyone who is uncomfortable with it and what happens…they start talking. In an audit, as in a negotiation, this is the first mistake and often leads to a failed position. Being comfortable with silence turns the tables and puts the pressure back on the other side and this is what Ted Thompson is good at. It is a powerful skill and not to be underestimated.

But Ted Thompson isn’t sitting down with each potential player and negotiating contracts one at a time, though jameshe initiates and manages and determines the limits of such discussion…and has the final say. But Thompson does use silence in his “wait and see” approach to the first wave of free agency. Thompson, to his credit, refuses to be desperate. He allows the desperate teams (see Miami, Redskins, Philadelphia etc) to go out and overpay big names and he rarely if ever fights that fight. Is he wrong? For the answer, just ask yourself how many playoff games the Miami, Washington, and Philadelphia won this year. And the Dolphins got Ndamukong Suh last year and then fired the head coach for not playing well enough (tongue firmly in teeth there).

So Ted’s silence, especially in the initial free agent frenzy keeps the team from overpaying for a player that is following the money and that is important as so often those top tier players don’t work out. The team is financially crippled and finds themselves spending years paying for a player that didn’t work out.

Ted allows the first wave of players to get overpaid because it puts pressure on the ones left behind. Ted’s silence moves the desperation to the players who are left with no one interested in giving them a huge contract. The silence says “you are a second tier player, expect to be paid like one” and literally saves the Packers millions of dollars. With DeMarco Murray going to the Titans, every other running back (and there are a lot of them) knows that the most desperate team is off the board and now they have to start working harder to make sure they find a home. Notice how the tables begin to turn? If I am an aging player like Matt Forte, I begin to reassess my true value on the market. And while there are plenty more teams out there that could see improvement in their backfield from a player like Forte…the shifting of pressure begins. This is brilliant.

The danger of silence

One caveat on the above…once in awhile, the right top-tier free agent comes along. When they do, it is time to strike, not out of desperation but because he is the right guy at the right time. I have heard time and time again that Packers choice is between getting a big time free agent or managing the team finances for the long term. While signing a big time free agent often hurts a team’s financials, this is a false dichotomy. Don’t believe me…just ask if signing Reggie White put our team in the poor house for years to come. How many would argue that Reggie White was not worth the money? No one. And the team continues in good shape financially.

Here are my criteria for a player that is worth pursuing like Mike Holmgren and Ron Wolf pursued Reggie White

  • phenomenal player (obviously)
  • in their prime
  • no character issues

As you can see from that list, these guys don’t come along often.

So to me, if the perfect piece to the puzzle is out there…pay the man! The problem is that isn’t the case this year. There are good players out there that could turn us into a championship defense, but none of them are without drawbacks or question marks. There is no Reggie White (well, that goes without saying). If Luke Kuechly was available…I would say pay him and bring him in. But he’s not so we have to go back to the silence/pursuit approach. But there are dangers in the way Ted Thompson plays this game.

Silence first is a good way to go, putting pressure on the players to find a home rather than showing interest that reeks of desperation. One danger, of course, is that if you maintain silence…never go after anyone and never show interest or begin the negotiations, players find other homes. Silence only works to a point, at some point it is right to let a player know you’re interested and begin to find out what their priorities and needs are and that is where the rubber meets the road. At times it seems that the Packers brass just never decides to pursue anyone and this adds up to frustration in PackerNation. Better to let players go than overpay them in a way that hurts us long term but in second tier free agents, that should not be too much of a problem as you have to have a paid starter and backup in those positions anyway. Yes, draft picks are cheaper but the salary cap is meant to pay an entire team after all, the question is who gets what. The other danger of the silent treament is that affordable guys who are blue-collar, hard working guys slip through your fingers. And here is where we come full circle to Peyton Manning’s retirement speech.

Timing is everything

Manning said that the reason he was retiring was because the timing was right. He said he thought one thing he had as a quarterback and a player was good timing. True, and Packers fans know what happens when the timing of a great player’s retirment is not quite right. Fans wait eight years for the jersey retirement of one of the greatest players the franchise has ever seen.

Thompson is good at the silent treatment, and that is a powerful tool. But what concerns me is whether, once the first frenzy of overpaying players who will likely hurt the franchise more than help, whether we will have the timing to open up and pursue the needs of those players who sincerely need a job. As teams buy players, players become the ones who are desperate. The Packers are a perennial playoff team with Aaron Rodgers as quarterback. This is a bargaining chip in and of itself. Players who wants a championship more than a payout  are out there…but can TT get a deal done? He can if his timing is right. Wait…wait…wait…and then pull the trigger. Showing interest and showing desperation are two different things and I do think we can get it done this year.

I look at guys like James Laurinaitis, Jerrell Freeman, Coby Fleenor, Dwayne Allen or Matt Forte, or even (if he doesn’t get signed right off) Danny Trevathan, who may fit this bill better than Mario Williams or Bruce Irvin or Malik Jackson (even though you can never have too many pass-rushers).

Regardless of the outcome, the silent treatment puts the pressure on PackerNation too. So we wait…and we hope that the Packers brass finds a few players to target, shows their interest, and is able to make a deal with one or even two. This year will hopefully add another Ryan Pickett, Charles Woodson, or Julius Peppers-type player to the Packers’ roster.

Go Pack!





Brady Augustine is co-owner and content creator for www.greenbaypackernation.com. He currently resides in Tennessee and also conspires with brother, JR on www.cheesnewswire.com


  1.   January 24, 2017, 5:51 pm

    Capers has to go u can’t play a 90s style D in 2017 he is past his prime and the d doesn’t work that puts too much pressure on Rodgers and the O.I wanna see a GM that will open the wallet

  2.   January 24, 2017, 12:06 pm

    One choice is insufficient. Ted Thompson refuses to fill gaps needed to provide players to make the team a real contender. The team plays just well enough each year to end up at the bottom of the draft list. Taking the best available and sitting them on the bench or practice squad does not allow for growth. So many glaring holes it will be almost impossible to fill them this year.
    Dom Capers has tried to make players play to his scheme, rather than create a D that fits the players strengths. Blown coverages, missed tackles, basic technique issues and Thompson’s inability to retain players does not help. Need someone that can put a D on the field that understands the game as it is played in 2017…not like it was in the 90’s.
    Strength and Conditioning…I am having a hard time understanding why we get decimated year after year. Every team in the league plays the same amount of games. Why did we lose 8 players against the Falcons and they 1 for a few plays? Do we need better position coaches. is it a technique issue? How can a player like Eddie Lacy get so out of condition they can’t play?

    We all love our team…for me it has been since 1960…I remember years when we could not even give tickets away…still bought them, still cheered every game…2 HOF quarterbacks and how many SB wins in 20 years? There is only one goal…the Lombardi Trophy….no participation Trophies in the NFL

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