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Let the Ted Thompson Debate Begin in Earnest

Though Green Bay Packers’ general manager Ted Thompson has been a lightning rod for team critics, I’ve never been a major participant. But I now think that his time has come and gone.

Why? Because he’s 64 going on 80. I just don’t see the mental sharpness, the energy, or the rigorous mind needed to make complex analyses of player talent. I used to think his “Aw shucks” country bumpkin manner was just an act. Now I think it’s what he has become. I view good communication skills as a requirement for the job.

I’m not trying to be unkind. I’ve been there, age-wise, and I don’t have half the acuity I used to possess. In fact, some of you have pointed that out.

For most readers, however, I suspect your rating of Ted will be based on his 12-year record of personnel dealings.

Thompson joined the Packers in 2005. His first draft choice ever was Aaron Rodgers with overall pick number 24 – good start! You’d have to agree that things could only go downhill from there.

You can follow almost every move of Thompson’s career via his Wikipedia entry. It contains a year-by-year accounting of his moves, and there are charts showing notable high and low draft picks, major and minor free agent signings, and the three trades he has made (including trading away Brett Farve in 2008). The chart entries aren’t complete, but they present much of his work at a glance.

Unfortunately, Wikipedia’s narrative section stops at 2012 – about when some critics think the Packers’ draft decisions started to rapidly go downhill.

Below is my quick effort to list some of Thompson’s more successful picks as Green Bay’s GM. Below that is a list of several of his more questionable picks, though I’ve confined that to only the first three draft rounds. I generally haven’t taken into account players’ injuries. I haven’t listed the draft years, but the names are mostly in chronological order.

I’ve also excluded the picks of 2015 and 2016, as being too new to reach any conclusion. However, the 2015 lineup is: Damarious Randall (Round 1), Quinten Rollins (2), Ty Montgomery (3), Jake Ryan (4), Brett Hundley (5), Aaron Ripkowski (6), Christian Ringo (6), and Kennard Backman (6).

The 2016 draft picks were: Kenny Clark (1), Jason Spriggs (2), Kyler Fackrell (3), Blake Martinez (4), Dean Lowry (4), Trevor Davis (5), and Kyle Murphy (6).

Thompson’s Draft Successes

First rounders: Aaron Rodgers, A.J. Hawk, Clay Matthews, B.J. Raji, Bryan Bulaga, Nick Perry, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
Second rounders: Nick Collins, Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Casey Hayward, Eddie Lacy, Davante Adams
Third rounders: James Jones, Jermichael Finley, Morgan Burnett
Fourth rounders: Josh Sitton, T.J. Lang, Mike Daniels, David Bakhtiari
Fifth rounders: Micah Hyde, Corey Linsley
Sixth rounders: Mason Crosby, Desmond Bishop, James Starks

Thompson’s Draft Failures

First rounders: Justin Harrell, Derek Sherrod, Datone Jones
Second rounders: Daryn Colledge, Brian Brohm, Mike Neal, Jerel Worthy
Third rounders: Abdul Hodge, Jason Spitz, Aaron Rouse, Patrick Lee, Alex Green, Khyri Thornton

Thompson’s free agent signing successes include: Ryan Pickett, Sam Shields, Tramon Williams, John Kuhn, Charles Woodson, Julius Peppers, Letroy Guion, and Jared Cook.

The Thompson portfolio is not complete without including all the players he has released (often out of salary cap considerations) and those who have let their contracts expire and gotten better deals elsewhere.

I leave it to readers to consider or debate Thompson’s legacy as a draft guru.

Rob Born

Due to Aaron Rodgers’ reckless ways, I’m officially launching the Campaign for GM Gutekunst to Acquire the Best Available (Veteran) Backup Quarterback – NOW.



  1. Howard January 24, 2017

    For those who say TT was made better by having Schneider, Dorsey, and McKenzie around. I ask wasn’t those guys around during the Harrell pick?

    I don’t care about the past except last year. What I want is a new GM. There are some concerning signs and your second paragraph Rob hits in part on my concern.

    I have said for a while that I think TT will step down after this season. I have never said why I believed that would occur. The first time it dawned on me this could be a real possibility sooner rather than later was a video after the Packers Redskins playoff game last year. The video showed the Packers entering the victorious locker room. To greet the players was Wolf the younger and TT side by side. Wolf was probably there to show he received a promotion but also to take the bite out of not being allowed to interview with Detroit. What the video showed to me was how old, tired, and slow TT looked compared to Wolf. It appeared clear to me this was a video that showed a much needed change and the Packers were ready to start the process.

    What alarmed me this off season was the Sitton move. To me Sitton was released because he had no dead cap impact if released. Maybe there were other reasons but I think the dead cap hit was a contributing factor in the final decision. At the time the first thing I thought is after the 2017 year Rodgers has no dead cap hit for two years in a row. How will TT deal with Rodgers with no dead cap hit to the Packers? Would he trade Rodgers for multiple draft picks? Rodgers agent will want to restructure that contract this year for some more guaranteed money and an extension. If he doesn’t he is not doing his job. That renegotiation could assist the Packers in salary cap room this year or the following. I do not trust TT to be involved in those negotiations. It is time for a new GM that can make the Rodgers contract decision with out TT making the decision looking at age, draft picks that could be acquired, and dead cap hit. I think there are others in the Packer organization that understand the value of Rodgers to the organization and their future jobs. I am not so confident that TT looks at things as others might. It is time to ride of into the sunset TT.

    1. Kato January 24, 2017

      I am not sure I view it the same way as far as Rodgers/Sitton. Sitton plays an interior offensive line position which is much more easily replaced than a quarterback is. Look at the offensive line this year. They were arguably one of top pass blocking units sans Sitton. Run blocking wasn’t quite as good. Sitton was injured a large portion of the year, which has been an issue the last couple years. Only difference is he couldnt play through them this year. Also, living in the Chicago area, watched a fair amount of Sitton this year and his play fell off. It was more of a calculated gamble. I think that the only reason they cut Rodgers is if they have absolute faith in Hundley.

      1. Howard January 24, 2017

        TT may put more value on a QB than another position and that is my point. TT is consistent in getting rid of players that reach that 30+ year old mark, and have little to no cap hit. Woodson, Favre, and Sitton come to mind. There are probably others.

        No way would TT cut Rodgers because he has value, but that does not mean he might not try to trade him if contract extension talks do not go well. After the 2017 year the Packers would not incur any dead cap money costs if they trade Rodgers for picks. How would you like to be Rodgers with TT’s track record knowing you have no control over being traded to a rebuilding AFC team that wants a QB? That is why if I was Rodgers agent I would be trying to work out a contract extension this year. Rodgers may only want to receive an extension if he sees the Packers “reload”. This could get ugly fast with TT in charge. Let a new GM work the extension out with Rodgers.

        1. Kato January 25, 2017

          I guess I don’t view it quite the same. I don’t think TT would move Rodgers unless he didn’t think he could play or had that much faith in Hundley. He did extend Woodson in his age 33 season. QBs have recently aged better than defensive backs. That being said, I still don’t want TT being the GM of this team any more.

      2. PF4L January 24, 2017

        The day that they cut Rodgers and insert Hundley will happen on the same day Mordecai questions why ESPN hasn’t hired him yet.

  2. MMK January 24, 2017

    I can’t be alone in the sentiment that going into free agency and “buying” a defense in the near future to give #12 at least a real shot of winning another championship is the right move. There is not a lot more time to draft and develop a defense in the Rodgers era. I understand not wanting to get into salary issues that could hamstring the team for years to come, but the way I see it once Rodgers is gone we’re likely heading for the new dark ages anyways, another ring or two might take the sting out of that. Next franchise QB will come from draft anyways. Frankly if in the first round of the draft we take another project safety and convert him to corner I will lose my mind.

    1. PF4L January 24, 2017

      Time isn’t the only concern in draft and develop, when you have only 3 players total, from the 11 and 12 draft, who are you developing?

      This is broken.

      1. PF4L January 24, 2017

        But remember….Mark Murphy said he doesn’t 2nd guess Ted Thompson.

        Then who does? Then who is Ted’s boss? Then who is Ted accountable too?

        This is broken.

    2. Kato January 25, 2017

      “Buying” a defense doesn’t typically work well. The giants are the exception this year. Remember the eagles in 2011? I do. It wasn’t pretty. Players don’t always translate well to other defensive systems. Take Jarious Byrd for example.

      I am by no means saying I am against free agency, but I would say proceed with caution. Pick up guys that aren’t necessarily super stars, but are veterans that have played in the NFL that can play in your defensive system.

      1. PF4L January 25, 2017

        Like it didn’t work for Denver?

  3. Louis Pistoni January 24, 2017

    How this guy was hired by the Packers I`ll never understand. Over half his picks have been horrendous. On top of that he did nothing before he came to the Packers. How did they settle on him???? He is terrible compared to Ron Wolf. Ron Wolf brought the franchise back to the top. He brought in Reggie White and Brett Favre along with Mike Holmgrem and changed the climate of the franchise. Other than Charles Woodson and to a lesser degree Julius Peppers he has brought in no one. The Patriots are in contention for the Super Bowl EVERY year because they draft AND bring in top level free agents EVERY year! TT doesn`t or will not do this.

    1. Kato January 25, 2017

      The patriots rarely bring in top level free agents. Name one. Wes Walker was hardly a top end free agent. Ditto for Dion Lewis.

      1. PF4L January 25, 2017

        He didn’t say the Packers should bring in a lot of top level free agents. But we all know how you like to speak for people don’t we?

        But to answer your question anyway…..

        1) Rodney Harrison
        2) Mike Vrabel
        3) Rob Ninkovich
        4) David Patten
        5) Rodney Harrison
        6) Darrelle Revis
        7) Danny Amendola
        8) Donte’ Stallworth
        9) Brandon LaFell

        He also used the trade route to improve his team…scrubs like Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Ted Washington and Corey Dillon.

        Yea, Belichick can’t hold a candle for drafting or player acquisitions next to Ted Thompson.

        Keep defending Ted and Fat Mike, it seems to be working out well for you.

  4. PF4L January 24, 2017

    What was Nick Perrys ranking before his 5th season? Which also happens to be a contract year. Was he a 1st round success before 2016? I don’t think a 1st round pick, that finally comes into his own in his 5th season, is rated a success. Not in my world anyway.

    Regarding Hayward, if a success, why would Ted let him walk?
    If you don’t call 2nd round pick Terrence Murphy a failure, what do you call him?
    If you don’t call 2nd round pic BRANDON JACKSON a failure, what do you call him?

    Why would you exclude rounds 4-6 in failures, but include them is success’s. Let me see if i can’t help you even that playing field.




    Shields and Williams were both udfa signings……Out of the hundreds and hundreds of Teds udfa signings, the law of averages tells you you should be able fall into a player or 2.

    If we peeked early in the 2015 draft….at this point, we could call Ty Montgomery as a success, probably Aaron Ripkowski.

    If we peeked early at the 2016 draft, we could name these players a success…….

    Final thought: In the 2011 and 2012 drafts, Ted drafted a total 18 players, 3 players remain on the team. So much for draft and develop. We are paying for those mistakes now.

    1. MJ January 24, 2017

      I’ll add something that I every now and then I mention. It’s about the top round selections. Perry is the perfect example. We get a guy that in his 5th year starts to contribute. Then, alas, we have to pay him like a free agent. What is the point of having a high rounder not contributing while his contract is cheap? If they pan out only after their 4th or 5th seasons, then it is almost the equivalent of hiring free agent. Or, if he is let walk, then we have basically developed a guy for another team (that is willing to get players in free agency, not just the draft).
      But yeah, with the present strategy, our only hope for a title is having the last 2-3 drafts’ picks stepping up, and maybe getting one impact player and some rotational guys from the upcoming draft. If, on the contrary, the latest drafts’ guys do not pan out… we are not even sniffing the dust that collects on a Lombardi trophy.

      1. PF4L January 24, 2017

        MJ, very astute points, and i’m almost embarrassed i didn’t think of that angle, kudos!

        T Y Packman.

      2. Kato January 25, 2017

        Perry was always injured. That contributed to his slow development. He showed flashes the last couple years. Perry would not be the same as “just signing another free agent.”
        You know he fits in your system and had experience in it as well. Meanwhile FA John Doe, while considered a top end FA, has no experience in your defensive system and may not be successful at first, if at all, and may not fit in your scheme. I can’t believe I have to say that.

        What they do with Perry will be directly tied to what they do at defensive coordinator and/or if they change to a 4-3. While Perry was considered more of a 4-3 end, the packers may not view him as much that way and not resign him.

        1. PF4L January 25, 2017

          Perry was always injured?…..OK, then lets call that a success!! Maybe we can draft more injured success’s like that. Kato?….what time does the short bus pick you up every morning?

          Who said they are changing Coordinators, or going to a 4-3?

          Or do you think now, after 6 years of play-off fuck ups, Fat Mike finally realized maybe he should ummm…duh, ummm actually DO SOMETHING?

    2. PackMan January 24, 2017

      Every Packer fan should read this post by PF4L — no more truer words have been spoken.

      I can’t say anything else. Every word is 120% accurate.

      Well said!

  5. PF4L January 24, 2017

    Could you imagine if the Packers ended the season at 5-11, or 6-10?

    The City of Green Bay would be covered in brown, from all the shit hitting the fan.

    But then we couldn’t have gotten into the playoffs like all the TRUE LOYAL Packer fans wanted. And we couldn’t have watched the Packers vs. Falcons. We would have missed out on that.

    Losing is temporary. Unless things stay the same.

    I don’t need to prove that. History and reality have done that for me.

    1. PF4L January 24, 2017

      11/30/2016 at 12:57 pm

      I guess for some Packer fans. the last 5 years of playoff futility isn’t enough for them, they want to endure another year or 2 of it.

      Guaranteed…. Everyone that is rooting for wins right now and getting into the playoffs, will be clamoring for the removal of TT and MM immediately after the 1st embarrassing playoff loss.

      In the past 5 seasons, we’ve had better teams go into the playoffs than we have this year. This team can’t run, and can’t play defense. Where do you think this team is going even if they got in the playoffs?

  6. icebowl January 24, 2017

    Good piece Rob….

    “I’ve been there, age-wise, and I don’t have half the acuity I used to possess” – I can attest to that also being part of it.

    The other half of the equation is the effect of generation-gap. You end up having to work (and negotiate deals) with people who could be your kids. As more Theo Epstein (Wolfe Jr.) guys move into GM roles there will be a greater need for our guy to be able to understand thevthinking and communicate in their style and lingo.

    Common thread among comments sends clear message that GB leadership needs to act now to be able to leverage the skills of the true GOAT, #12 before he hangs up his cleats.

    I hope TT recognizes the time has come for a peaceful transition to the next generation.

    1. PackAttack January 24, 2017

      It’s actually surprising to me that so many people have FINALLY realized that Ted Thompson is well past his prime and borders on incompetent when it comes to managing an NFL franchise. PF4L wrote an incredibly true piece — kudos to you! 100% correct on all points!

      I’ve been saying all this for four years — the guy’s draft track record is mediocre at the absolute best. PF4L said it best — the law of averages prove that if you sign enough undrafted FA’s, and compile as many draft picks as absolutely possible, your bound to hit on a few “decent players in that stretch

      According to ProFootballFocus, in the last five years no team has had MORE overall accumulation of total draft picks than the Green Bay Packers and over those five years they have one of the top 10 worst efficiency ratings (from a draft standpoint) than any other NFL franchise. What does that tell you about this team? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again and again —- without Aaron Rodgers, the Green Bay Packers are the Cleveland Browns of the NFC North.

      And since I wasn’t clear in my last post I’ll re-phrase here. Your not going to find a true, legitimate, shutdown cornerback who can truly help the Packers in the 2017 NFL DRAFT. This roster doesn’t need more young, “projectable”, cornerbacks (this roster is flush with guys like that) this defense needs a veteran corner that only be found via trade or FA. Sam Shields was good but he’s not in the Aqib Talib, Terrance Newman, Patrick Peterson, Jalen Ramsey or Charles Woodson category for me. I’m talking about difference makers — guys who can legitimately transform a defense. Herb Adderley was that type of player for the Packers, Woodson, Tim Lewis, LeRoy Butler, Sharper, Nick Collins — for the exception of Butler, Sharper and Collins, all those guys were 1st rounders. Point I’m trying to make is your not going to find that type of “playmaker talent” at the backend of this upcoming draft in 2017. You might find a good player, but one that’s going to help us win RIGHT NOW….nope, sorry, gotta go into FA or trade for one

      I’m going to disagree with this whole “before Aaron Rodgers hangs up his cleats” shit. He’s 33 — not 38. Rodgers is going to be playing in the NFL for a long, long time. He has AT LEAST 6-7 years of really good football left in him, maybe more. Brady has had some of his best years after age 37! Does it look like he’s losing anything? Manning had his best year at age 37 and Favre arguably had his best year at age 40. None of those guys are Rodgers but QB’s are clearly playing longer and better with age in today’s game. The last thing to go on any athlete is their arm strength — and unless Rodgers fucks his arm up or gets seriously injured, I wouldn’t be so worried about his longevity in today’s ultra conservative NFL

  7. I Steal Fish January 24, 2017

    I’m really on the fence. on one hand, this guy does bring in some good picks. on the other hand he has to stop being so gun shy on free agents and project players. his method works, but as of right now time is not in his favor. he has got to pull to the trigger on big time players. and for the love of god, please, PLEASE! bring in some players with some fire in their belly already. we don’t have any super passionate guys on this team save for mike daniels. we need a hammer on defense, somebody who can get these guys hype. and somebody who will lower the boom every week.

    1. PackAttack January 24, 2017

      PF4L says it all, when you pick as much as the Packers do (and it’s quite often — read my post above) the law of averages has you hitting on “some” of those players. Thompson never dives into FA, never trades, just stock piles picks, signs loads of undrafted FA’s and practice squad players — and what you have is a team mostly comprised of players who have “survived” that process. Some guys develop and workout and most don’t.

      Here’s my problem with that system. While I agree with the whole draft and develop model— I really do, the issue here is that Ted Thompson has and NEVER and will never go “all in” — the guy never has, not once! The guy has never said, “fuck it I’m going to go out this off-season and sign the best two defensive players I can find” — A.J. Bouye and Kawann Short your in. Sam Shields your out. Adrian Petersen — fuck it, I’m going to sign you to piss off Viking fans and because people will respect us when we run (bad example). DeSean Jackson your in, Rodgers could use you. Randall Cobb — fuck off, your shit and can’t beat anyone deep anymore, your out. I’m going to trade up in the 1st Round to get Marshon Lattimore or Sidney Jones, the two absolute best corners available in the draft, potential difference makes for RIGHT NOW. I’m going to trade a player I don’t need (Brett Hundley or Jason Spriggs) because I don’t fucking need you and I can get more of a valuable player that will help me win RIGHT NOW. Those are examples — but seriously, that’s a “win now all in” approach.

      And for everyone reading this you know damn well, if Ted Thompson did that — and we still lost — at least we fucking tried! Hey fuck it at least we went all in and gave it everything we had, we put all our chips on the table and made our stand, so be it. But we don’t do that. We don’t go out and trade Richard Seymour to the Oakland Raiders for a first-rounder or sign Aquib Talib for a 7th rounder or Randy Moss for a 4th rounder — those are too valuable to Ted! We wouldn’t dare trade Clay Matthews or Randall Cobb for anything less than a sure-fire hall of famer, no way! Go look through Bill Belichick’s free agent signing history. It’s a who’s who of perfect signings that lead to SUPER BOWLS! WOW…what a concept, signing veteran playmakers who want to win now that can play at high level!!! WHAT A FUCKING IDEA! Why couldn’t Ted Thompson have signed Darrelle Revis in 2014? Think that signing might have helped against Seattle? Think Janoris Jenkins or god forbid Josh Norman could have helped this team this year? Probably not, we had Sam Shields and our cornerbacks were loaded in August Ted said. Jerrell Freeman or Bruce Irvin? Naw, we got Jake Ryan and Clay! Both had efficient ratings well below average this year according to PFF.

      Aaron Rodgers is the only reason this team is worth a shit and until Teddy goes out and finds himself another legit stud on defense, a true playmaker, like a Charles Woodson or a Reggie White — this team won’t go anywhere. The Packers have some good players but ZERO difference makers except Rodgers. Think about….who else on this team is untouchable aside from Rodgers and maybe Jordy?

      1. PackAttack January 24, 2017

        “but…but…we win the NFC North Title over the Vikings and Lions every year and we’ve gone to the NFC Championship 2 out-of-the last 3 years! Ted is so good and so is the organization, it’s not just Rodgers that helps us win”

        This is the standard complacency line among morons, that NFC North Titles and 2nd Place finishes should be valued! I always think the idiots who say that shit are the same people who voted for Hillary Clinton and throw rocks through windows in Washington D.C. b/c they don’t understand what democracy is. If NFC North Titles and embarrassing ass kickings in the NFC Championship game are your standards I suggest you head over to US Bank Stadium and purchase a purple Christian Ponder jersey and start marching down I-94 to protest women rights — because that’s where your mind is headed. What type of a loser mentality equates success to division titles and 2nd place finishes?

        1. PF4L January 25, 2017

          Draft and develop does work, but you have to have more success’s than Ted has, or it catches up to you.

          What happens, if you miss big in drafts like 11 and 12, you pay for those mistakes later, like in a NFCCG.

          Also, if your team has a pattern, of getting to the playoffs and getting booted out, sometimes in ugly fashion. It’s very possible, that if no changes are made in those 6 years, things remain the same.

          Next thing you know, after a NFCCG, you’ll be blaming your own coaching and management failures, on injuries.

          The more things stay the same, the more things stay the same.

      2. Kato January 25, 2017

        I would consider Bahktiari untouchable. Next QB and perhaps a pass rusher, the hardest position to get a dominant player for. Look at all the failed top pick left tackles (Luke Joekel, Eric Fisher, ect)

  8. Big B January 24, 2017

    Check out next year’s schedule: NFC South and AFC North, plus SEA and DAL. Brutal.
    Figure 4-2 in division, 1-3 vs South, 2-2 vs North and 0-2 vs division champs= 7-9.
    Unless front office makes some moves to reload there are no playoffs for you.
    Rodgers + Status Quo is not going to cut it. Push the chips in.

  9. PackAttack January 24, 2017

    side note: is there a donation page for the site? I can barely access it anymore with all the adds and stuff. I know a few of us would gladly dump in some money to help fund it. I have a hard time even scrolling the main page right now there’s so many adds. If there’s a donation page let me know, I’d like to help fund the page — if possible.

    1. MMTTDCSUCK January 24, 2017

      Adblock plus . . .

  10. Abe Frohman January 25, 2017

    We have a saying in my family: if nothing changes, then nothing changes. If there are no changes in the front office, losing the NFCCG is about all we can expect. TT’s methodology has run its course and it’s been successful, but only to a point.

  11. TT IS A FRUSTRATING GUY!! January 25, 2017

    Ted Thompson can not build a defense. In 12 years he has drafted 2 studs, Mathews/Collins. 12 Years.. Defenses win championships and Ted Thompson can not build one. 12 years is long enough of doing the same thing and expecting different results,.

  12. MMTTDCSUCK January 25, 2017

    What else can I say, other than it is way past the time for TT “The Frugal GM’ to leave. This charade has gone on long enough. If he does not leave or at least do a 180 in his player procurement style he needs to be canned. This annual bed shitting in the playoffs has run its course. No good D Line studs, no good ILB’s with any speed or aggression. No DB’s with any speed or aggression. An offensive play caller that gets hung up on making certain that he calls a certain amount of runs per game regardless of the consequences. Same old, same old plays. A DC who stays up in the booth where he has no feel or pulse of the game. Where his idea of putting his foot on the oppositions throat is non existent while also calling vanilla defenses which at the same time are all structured with complicated verbiage; btw the same as Buffoons vanilla offense with complex verbiage. These three charlatans are so full of themselves that they are completely missing the boat during games and more importantly, during the preseason, season, playoffs and post season. They need to take their love fest for themselves somewhere else, get a room and have a mutual love circle jerk and just fuck off . . .