Lions, Vikings, Seahawks, Cowboys & Bears…Oh My!
All coming to Lambeau this year! Grab your spot from us in late April.
By CHRIS HAVEL
The NFL off-season’s initial flurry of free agent activity has quelled it is time to recap the key comings-and-goings, look to the Packers’ draft and bottom line the NFL’s owners meetings.
Headline: NFL seeks to expand replay
Bottom line: Haven’t we suffered enough?
Replay has its place in adjudicating and impacting NFL games, but those boundaries – like my patience – have been stretched to the limit. Some teams want replay to include all penalties. Others, such as New England, want it to include all plays.
It’s enough already.
The pure joy of celebrating a touchdown hasn’t been doubled because of replays double-takes, but rather it has been diminished. Getting the call correct trumps everything unless it delays and/or dilutes the game until it borders on being unwatchable.
Surely the NFL owners don’t need replay to see that.
Headline: NFL playoff expansion is coming in 2016
Bottom line: League should follow NCAA’s lead
The NFL is going to expand playoffs from 12 to 14 teams. It’s just a matter of when. The fact that it isn’t going to happen this year comes as a mild surprise because more post-season games equals more revenue.
I’m ok with 14 teams in the playoffs. It’s still less than 50 percent of the entire league. The concern is that 12 leads to 14 leads to where? When will the playoff expansion stop? What is the ideal number? The NFL has 32 teams so for balance’s sake 16 is a logical number.
Then again, 32 teams have worked pretty well for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. Why not let everyone into the postseason? Consider the upset possibilities and the wild excitement in some cities as their teams shockingly advanced?
If all 32 teams were penciled into a bracket this past season, would the Super Bowl have been Seattle vs. New England?
OK, it’s a crazy idea. Seriously, though, there has to be a limit on the number of playoff teams. If the regular season is diluted, then why not shorten it, too? And that’s certainly not a direction the league wants to go.
Headline: Packers looking to draft, not free agency
Bottom line: And we should be surprised because… ?
The Packers have been operating this way for a decade under GM Ted Thompson. They allow the high-priced players and big spenders – aka two fools in the night – find crazy but common ground for deals.
Meantime, they re-sign their own key free agents before they hit the market. It worked with Randall Cobb and Bryan Bulaga this offseason. Clearly, you can’t keep them all, as was the case with Tramon Williams. It turns out Williams’ three-year, $21 million deal included $10 million in guaranteed money. The Packers were offering two years at $4 million per year, with no word on how much was being guaranteed.
Williams, at 32, made the smart move and took the $10 million in guaranteed money from the Cleveland Browns.
In turn, the Packers didn’t overpay to retain an aging veteran.
Headline: Packers lack depth at cornerback
Bottom line: Draft will bring cornerback help
The Packers’ loss of Williams creates a void that should be filled by Micah Hyde and/or Casey Hayward. However, the Packers do lack depth with Williams’ and Davon House’s departures, so expect them to go shopping for cornerbacks in the first three rounds.
They should be able to get a player who can contribute immediately in a specific role ala Ha Ha Clinton-Dix at safety. The idea would be to groom them to be the long-term starter at cornerback opposite Sam Shields.
The Packers also need to add inside linebacker help, a defensive lineman and perhaps a tight end. It seems like a rather significant number of needs for one draft. On the other hand, the Packers got contributions from four draft picks a year ago.
It happens, and probably more in Green Bay than elsewhere.
NEXT WEEK: A look at the draft’s cornerbacks
Chris Havel is a national best-selling author and his latest book is Lombardi: An Illustrated Life. Havel can be heard Monday through Friday from 4-6 p.m. CDT on WDUZ FM 107.5 The Fan, or on AM-1400, as well as Fan Internet Radio (www.thefan1075.com). Havel also hosts Event USA’ MVP Parties the evening before home games.