Tag Archives: Super Bowl XLV

Why the Packers Aren’t Active in Free Agency

There will not be any Reggie White type signings for the Pack in the foreseeable future.

The Packers just completed one of its best regular seasons in franchise history. But, a 15-1 record guaranteed nothing, as the team fell in the first playoff game in miserable fashion. It’s clear the Packers are just a few difference-makers on defense from claiming its 5th Super Bowl title. So, TT should be active in getting those difference-makers in free agency, right? Wrong. Although it would be nice, the Packers simply cannot be active in free agency.

We all know TT has done a helluva job building this team through the draft. Undoubtedly, TT is one of the best in the league in mining the middle- to late-rounds for talented players that can contribute and develop into key members for the squad: JMike (3rd Rd.), James Jones (3rd), Sitton (4th), T.J. Lang (4th), Newhouse (5th), Starks (6th), Bishop (6th), Crosby (6th), and D.J. Smith (6th). The list only grows longer when you consider the undrafted free agents he has hit on. But, as with all things in life, this success comes with a cost.

Of the players identified above, most have received a healthy new contract to keep them around for the foreseeable future. And, that is the reason why the Packers simply cannot participate in free agency. To keep the core that won Super Bowl XLV together, TT must have enough money to pay them. And coming down the pipeline are not simply core players needing new deals. Instead, TT has the daunting task of figuring out cap-friendly deals to keep Greg Jennings, Clay Matthews, and Aaron Rodgers.

First up is Greg Jennings. The star receiver is in his last year of a 4-year extension he signed in 2009. Jennings will hit free agency at the ripe age of 29 and is one of the best WR’s in the business. If you’ve been paying attention at all to the free agency frenzy this past week, you know that WR’s have been getting absurd contracts. Consider, Josh Morgan – all 9 career TD’s in 4 seasons – is getting $12M over two years, $7.3M of which is fully guaranteed. Or, Pierre Garcon – he whose single-season career bests are 6 TDs and 947 yards – signed a 5-year, $42.5M contract, $20.5M guaranteed. (Sidenote – do you think other franchises have asterisks next to Redskins-signed players when agents use said contracts for favorable comparisons in negotiations? I’ve gotta think anytime an agent cites to a Dan Snyder contract, TT and Russ Ball smirk and say try again.) Needless to say, Jennings is in line for a substantial deal; one that is going to require TT and Russ Ball to get as creative as ever to not cripple the Pack’s salary cap for the future.

Next, we have the Claymaker. Matthews is still only 25, but has already established himself as one of the best defensive players in the game. He was second for Defensive MVP in 2010 and is the best defensive player that has donned the Green-and-Gold since Reggie White. If you thought last season’s defensive efforts were meager, just imagine if the offense didn’t have to devote two players to Clay every snap. It’s not a pretty thought. Matthews’ rookie contract expires in 2014. He’s in line for a massive contract extension. Super Mario Williams just got a 6-year, $100M contract, and this, off a season he finished with a knee injury. Last season, Da Bears (still suck) signed a 30-year-old Julius Peppers to a 6-year, $84M deal, with $42M guaranteed. When Matthews hits free agency, he will only be 27 and hardly have had a poor season (assuming he’s healthy (knock on wood!!!)). This contract might be particularly difficult. I would not be shocked if the Pack slap the franchise tag on Clay to give them extra time to figure out a deal.

Free agency is a no-go when you need to resign this Orca in the next year or two.

Finally, and probably the reason why Claymaker’s contract may be on the back-burner for a while, Rodgers is in line for a new contract. Savvy as always, TT signed Rodgers to a healthy extension back in 2008 when Rodgers had yet to even complete his first season starting. Obviously, the contract extension was a shrewd move. And, Rodgers still has 3 years before he reaches free agency. But, to say Rodgers has outperformed his contract would be the understatement of the year – remember, if the Pack had franchised Flynn, the franchise number for Flynn would have been more than Rodgers’ 2012 salary. TT will look to sign Rodgers to a deal to keep him in Green-and-Gold for the rest of his career (or at least until his good years are past and the Vikes will overpay out of desperation). Drew Brees’ contract (whenever he signs it) will set a new benchmark for elite QBs. Right now, Mr. Bundchen is playing on a 5-year, $78.5M deal, of which $48.5M is guaranteed. Whenever Rodgers reaches a new deal, I imagine it will reach 9-figures.

Long story longer, if you weren’t keeping track (and I’m not sure I even did), keeping those three players alone will likely cost the Packers upwards of $200M+. And that doesn’t even account for B.J. Raji, Sam Shields (assuming he doesn’t regress like last season), Bryan Bulaga, JMike (again), and Mike Neal (kidding) to name a few others that will also likely need to be resigned.

TT’s drafting prowess is the reason the Packers are set to become the team of the decade. To do so, though, TT must forego free agency in order to ensure he can resign the best players. So, those hoping the Packers will make a run at Kamerion Wimbley, consider: do you want Wimbley or the cap room to ensure the core of our team is together? I think it’s a no-brainer when you look at the big picture.

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The 1,567,438th Super Bowl XLVI Preview!!

I bet some of you are wondering, wait a minute, Border Rivals has Super Bowl preview??  I mean, sure, one of us is still creeping back off the ledge because his beloved Packers got Coughlin’d (again) a couple of weeks in the cathedral that used to be home-field advantage, Lambeau Field.  And of course, Border Rivals’ resident Vikings rube is still glowing over the fact there is no chance of having to watch Mr. State Farm do The Belt on the podium this Sunday with Dan Patrick and Roger Goodell.  However, even though we here at Border Rivals do not have stake in this year’s big game, we do not want our readers to be left out in the cold.  The following is our (non)-Super Bowl XLVI preview (yup, our resident Packer fan is still bitter).

The lead-up to this year’s game has been somewhat unique.  The older brother of one of the quarterbacks who is starting in the game – no, seriously, Eli is playing – has dominated the headlines all week long.  Instead of hearing about how Eli and his cast of fleet-footed and sure-handed wide receivers is going to make mince meat out of a very overrated Patriots secondary, we are instead being subjected to 1:00 a.m. tweets from Jim Irsay about that older brother.  Tweets like “Peyton has not gotten CLEARANCE from me”………(then 15 minutes later)……….”By that, I meant, Peyton has not received clearance from the Colts’ family doctors”……(to finally)…….”Peyton, do you want to come over for pizza and beer.”

Even Jimmy's buddy George knows it is not sound stratergy to schwiel and Tweet!!

Seriously, this guy is a millionaire a hundred times over and he does not have a handler who’s only job is to stop him from tweeting like a drunk, scorned college hook-up???  Jimmy, no joke, for $65K a year and tickets to every Super Bowl from here on out, we here at Border Rivals will agree to take responsibility for your Twitter account.  I mean, hell, there is no way we screw it up any worse than he already has. But, we digress.

There are some well-paid individuals who are going to play a football game on Sunday.  Even though the easy comparison for Sunday’s game is the previous match-up from 2008,  where the Giants escaped with a most surprising upset victory, we think the more accurate comparison is to the Super Bowl that we watched a scant 363 days ago.

Super Bowl XLV featured a red-hot Packers team up against the “class” of the AFC, the Pittsburgh Steelers.  Prior to the game, people not drinking Spotted Cow and sporting cheese on their head had a difficult time deciding who to favor.  The Packers gelled at just the right time, overcoming a rash of injuries, and ripped off eight wins coming into the game.  The Packers were a juggernaut.  The Steelers held serve with home wins against a tough Baltimore squad and an experienced Jets team that had beaten them only five weeks earlier.  Ultimately, the public seemed to be favoring the “hot” team and the Packers entered the game a three point favorite.

The game itself was rather enjoyable, even for our resident Vikings rube.  There was a lot of back and forth scoring.  Ultimately, the Packers prevailed because their opportunistic defense forced three turnovers, which were promptly turned into three touchdowns. Mr. State Farm, still in Madden-mode, sealed the game by converting crucial third-downs in the 4th Quarter to sustain the last drive, none bigger than the bullet to Jennings over the middle. It should also be noted that the Steelers helped the Packers’ cause by inexplicably abandoning the running game that had absolutely dominated in the third quarter.

The similarities to this year’s game are startling.  The Giants are this year’s “hot” team, winning two must-win regular season games to get in the playoffs and then continuing their hot streak in the playoffs, crushing the Matty “Ice” led Falcons (without a doubt, this is the least appropriate nickname in all of sports. Email us with worse, if possible) , Coughlin’g the Packers (again), and then ensuring that BOTH the Harbough brothers would get to watch the game with pops.

The Patriots, on the other hand, are the “class” of the AFC.  They took care of business all season, beating every team that they should, though, they never beat a team with a winning record.  In the playoffs, they held serve at home and beat a Broncos team that out-kicked its coverage worse than a Dungeons & Dragons Grandmaster (or whatever) bagging a Playboy Bunny.  Next up, a Ravens team that decided to not to feed the rock to its all-world tailback, Ray Rice, and were ultimately undone by Lee Evans and Billy Cundiff doing their best Kyle Stanley (or Jean Van de Velde for those not up-to-date) impersonations. The Pats coasted into the Super Bowl.

We expect that Super Bowl XLVI will play out in a manner similar to last year’s game.  Back and forth scoring with the team that makes those crucial two or three crucial plays in the second half providing the difference.

Giant fans are hoping that Mr. Bundchen suffers the same fate as Mr. State Farm.

The two caveats to this semi-generic prognostication are the Giants ability to run the ball on offense and to rush the passer on defense.  If the Giants can establish their dual-wield running attack of Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw, thereby keeping Mr. Bundchen off the field, the advantage definitely swings their way.  That advantage increases even more if their extremely pesky defensive line can give Mr. Bundchen the same happy-feet disease that it did to Mr. State Farm. Of course, these two advantages are semi-related – if the Giants can control the clock and run the ball, it puts even more pressure on Mr. Bundchen to perform when he has the ball.  However, if no pressure is brought, that see-saw affair is almost sure to happen.

Lost in the love affair with the Pats is that Mr. Bundchen has been rather pedestrian in the playoffs since 2005. Of course, its blasphemy to say anything negative about Mr. Bundchen. But, the following is Mr. Bundchen’s track record in the last eleven playoff games: 25-16 TD-INT ratio (including the 6 TD outburst against the JV-squad Broncos), 7 lost fumbles, and 0-1 in the Super Bowl.

Ultimately, we think the running game gets going, and Tuck, Osi, and Prime Minister Kiwanuka dispel the prayers of Patriots nation and put Mr. Bundchen on his can, early and often. Either way, it should be fun – assuming one of us can enjoy the game between his tears and Spotted Cows.

Giants 31 Patriots 21