The Green Bay Packers are not big players when it comes to free agency, they have never have been and never will be under the leadership of general manager Ted Thompson.
While Thompson is constantly ridiculed year in and year out for his lack of activity in free agency — most of the time, his patience is proven right when players, who sign ridiculously large contracts are cut two years later after making little or no impact.
During the first day or two of free agency, teams usually overpay and usually end up regretting it.
Thompson certainly isn’t cheap either as others have suggested, look at the four-year $39 million he gave to Sam Shields just days ago as proof. He simply saves his money to keep the players he drafted and developed — it’s a sound, successful philosophy.
However, the Packers have more free agents on the market than normal and by standing pat, letting the market play out, they risk losing some key players such as starting center Evan Dietrich-Smith.
Dietrich-Smith, an undrafted free-agent out of Idaho State, won the starting center job at the end of the 2011 season and never looked back. He’s not a dominant player by any means but he’s a solid starter, who has the trust of quarterback Aaron Rodgers and a tremendous grasp of the Packers offense.
According to Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the Packers want to keep Dietrich-Smith and have made it known to him and his agent. Yet, according to the article, Dietrich-Smith is headed to Tampa Bay to meet with the Bucs.
This has to be concerning for the Packers. Even though they have 2013 fourth-round pick J.C. Tretter waiting in the wings, allowing Dietrich-Smith to sign with another team would be a mistake, so would starting over at the center position for the third-straight season.
Obviously, the contract demands of Dietrich-Smith have to be realistic and with the lack of true center’s available, it’s definitely possible that the demand is pushing his market out of the Packers price range.
Thompson and the Packers are certainly hoping he will return and maybe it will be similar to the Chad Clifton situation in 2010, when he took a visit with the Washington Redskins, only to return to Green Bay in the end on a three-year deal.
At the end of the day, while the strategy of waiting for the market to develop is a prudent one, the Packers should be proactive in re-signing their own players before it’s too late. In this market, things change quickly and the Packers can’t be left out in the cold, while the Dietrich-Smith’s of the world move on without a fight.