INDIANAPOLIS – Ted Thompson won’t be going for broke. Not now, not ever.
It doesn’t matter that quarterback Aaron Rodgers is into the second decade of his career or that the Packers have reached only one Super Bowl in their streak of seven straight playoff appearances.
The “window of opportunity” so often talked about with a premier QB is not really on the radar of the Packers’ general manager. He’s going to continue to be a draft-and-develop roster builder, and he’s not going to venture madly into free agency.
He’s not interested in changing his approach, regardless of Rodgers’ age or anyone’s level of frustration with the Packers’ recent close calls in the playoffs, heartbreaks that have prevented Green Bay from returning to the Super Bowl for five straight years now.
“I think you have a philosophy in how you think is the best way to build a team,” Thompson said. “We’re not going to chase a ghost just because the clock is ticking.”
Thompson, as he annually does at this time of year, disputed the notion that he’s averse to free agency and is a “one-sided” personnel executive. He acknowledges his forays into free agency may be more rare than others, but he’s made successful splashes over the years with Charles Woodson and Ryan Pickett early in his tenure and with Julius Peppers more recently.
In that vein, a major signing can never be ruled out, but if one is coming between now and this spring’s draft at a significant need position such as linebacker or tight end, it will be a calculated, multi-year move like those he’s made in the past, not an all-or-nothing, short-term Super Bowl push.
“I think you have a philosophy and I think you stick with that philosophy,” Thompson said. “It doesn’t make sense to me … everybody’s talking about how we’ve been in position to be fairly successful for some time. You can’t do that if you’re changing all the time.”
Head Coach Mike McCarthy, who spoke at a Lucas Oil Stadium podium and off site with reporters in an extensive session, said he doesn’t buy into the “window of opportunity” view either. There are too many variables in any one season – injuries, for example – to pick a year to load up and go for it in a way that could compromise future seasons.
To McCarthy, you go for it with what you’ve got each year. For the Packers, that can mean youth playing key roles in big games, but that’s never scared McCarthy, even though young players have made costly, crunch-time postseason mistakes in recent years. It’s still not an indictment of Green Bay’s way.
“This process works,” McCarthy said. “You have to trust it. This season, this is a new challenge.
“We’re pouring everything we’ve got into this year, regardless of who we sign and how we draft.”
The Packers have a top-flight QB who needs a healthy receiving corps to get the offense rolling again. The defense has an impressive, young secondary behind a few veteran, front-seven playmakers who have kept the unit on the rise. That’s the current foundation from which the 2016 team will be built.
A lot has to go right for a team to get to the Super Bowl. It did in 2010 for the Packers, even though for much of the year a lot went wrong, particularly on the injury front.
Build a deep and competitive team that develops young talent, and then try to be healthy and playing your best football when it matters most. That’s how the Packers will keep going about it, and decisions in the draft and free agency will be made under that umbrella, with the hope that it all comes together again at some point.
“I think we’re a solid team,” Thompson said. “We have good players at places where you need good players. I don’t think we have a lot of weaknesses. I think we’re going to be competitive for some time to come.”