Thursday Thoughts: 2017 Draft
Tramon Williams retired from the National Football League this week, and while the highly-respected cornerback won’t be going to Canton, his two interceptions in the 2010 postseason will be enshrined in the hearts and minds of fans forever. In less important news, here are three Packers-related thoughts that ran through my head the past few days:
1) Re-signing Aaron Jones may have saved the Packers from the ignominy of not having a single player left from the 2017 draft. Assuming free agents Kevin King and Montravius Adams find new homes, Jones will be the sole survivor from that class. Josh Jones, Vince Biegel, DeAngelo Yancey, Kofi Amechia, Devante Mays, and Malachi Dupree have been gone for years, and Jamaal Williams signed with Detroit on Tuesday. While fans will always remember that draft for Ted Thompson’s decision to pass on T.J. Watt late in the first round, an even bigger mistake came two days later. Selecting at the top of round 4 – with 24 hours to decide which player to choose – the Packers picked Biegel instead of fellow linebacker Carl Lawson. The former was cut 16 months later while the latter developed into one of the league’s best edge rushers and just signed a $45 million deal with the Jets.
2) GM Brian Gutekunst and executive vice president/ director of football operations Russ Ball spent the past few days re-working contracts in an effort to get the Packers below the salary cap. Billy Turner, Adrian Amos, and Za’Darius Smith had their deals restructured, and Preston Smith agreed to a pay cut. Interestingly, the one player who didn’t have his contract manipulated – at least not yet – is Aaron Rodgers, whose $37.6 million cap number is the highest in the league. What exactly does this mean? Perhaps nothing. Maybe the Packers are just waiting to do something with the face of their franchise until they need the space to sign a free agent. Then again, it could mean that either the team doesn’t want to give the player what he wants, or that the player isn’t willing to do what the team wants. It’s something to keep an eye on, starting tomorrow, when a $6.8 million roster bonus is due.
3) Corey Linsley became the highest-paid center in the league on Monday when he agreed to terms on a five-year contract worth $62 million with the Los Angeles Chargers. His departure made me think of just how blessed the Packers have been at this position for the past two decades. Linsley was named to the All-Pro team after this past season, making him Green Bay’s fourth center this century to either be named All-Pro or go to the Pro Bowl. The only positions since 2000 with more players so honored are wide receiver (Donald Driver, Javon Walker, Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, and Davante Adams) and cornerback (Al Harris, Charles Woodson, Sam Shields, Tramon Williams, and Jaire Alexander), but that’s not a fair comparison since those positions get to have multiple players on the field at the same time. Can you name the four Pro Bowl and/or All-Pro centers without using Google?