Mike McCarthy: Packers “Might Shock You” in Free Agency
The Green Bay Packers are notorious for sitting on their hands during one of the most exciting periods of the NFL offseason. Since seemingly the dawn of football, one of the league’s glamour franchises has been content to stay idle during free agency, remaining hopeful that any personnel issues can be resolved through the draft or by simply improving its current crop of talent.
But now, head coach Mike McCarthy has teased that his team “might shock you this year.” What that means exactly isn’t altogether clear, except that the Packers could be tempted to spend a portion of their expected $20-plus million on a couple of free agents that could be of immediate assistance to the team.
Although signing former Chicago Bear Julius Peppers in 2014, the team has been otherwise stingy with free agent offers. Some believe that a more open-minded approach to the period may have even propelled the Packers to victory in at least one of their last two crushing playoff defeats: on the wrong end of a Herculean performance from Larry Fitzgerald in the 2015 divisional round, and committing the Choke of the Decade a year prior against Seattle in the Conference Championship.
This past season, many a cheesehead lamented the team’s reluctance to at least consider a fresh face at wide receiver after the catching issues the current corps suffered from without Aaron Rodgers’ #1 option, Jordy Nelson. Even McCarthy himself reportedly grew frustrated over general manager Ted Thompson’s unwillingness to reinforce the roster.
“We value draft and development; we value free agency,” said Thompson this week at the scouting combine. “We have guys, Julius Peppers, guys who have been free agents. If you can help us win football games and be a good teammate and that sort of thing, you have a place for us. We’re not opposed to doing that. We’ve said all along, in a perfect world you’d be able to draft, develop and keep your own players.”
A perfect world it would be, Ted, but one thing to note: Green Bay hasn’t made it back to the big game since that improbable wild card run in 2010. It’s a little too early to declare the Packers’ window “closing,” but there’s no telling how many more years Rodgers has left at his peak. He’ll need a little extra help if the Packers are to squeeze another ring or two out of this era.