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Evaluating The Corey Williams Deal

The crickets are chirping this free agency just like they did last year, but that worked out pretty well last season too. Still I expect the Packers will pursue a few guys later in free agency, but that depends a lot on who signs this upcoming week and GM Ted Thompson's actual and undisclosed interest in this year's free agents.

Detroit, Minnesota, and Chicago have been more active this offseason, but Minnesota's big move, signing WR Bernard Berrian helps them while hurting Chicago, so that has to be a push as far as the Packers are concerned. Chicago did resign LB Lance Briggs but he played for them last season, so his resigning only helps them from falling further. The only move that would get my attention by either of those teams would be a move to upgrade at quarterback, but there is still time. Is it worth evaluating Matt Millen's transactions in Detroit? Is he capable of making a good decision?

The Packers main move has been the acquisition of a late 2nd round pick (56th overall) for franchise DT Corey Williams. Pete Dougherty's concerned that the trade strips the Packers depth at defensive tackle while the health of starting DT Johnny Jolly remains questionable, but last preseason phenom DT Daniel Muir, who was left inactive most of 2007, steps into Williams spot, and the rest of the d-line is still the same. GM Ted Thompson will certainly add at least one more defensive tackle in the draft, probably in the later rounds. I liked what Williams brought to the team, but he can be replaced next season and there should be little difference in 2008.

The bigger question is did the Packers get fair value for Williams? There have been several defensive tackles traded at the start of free agency, and it appears the Packers made a good deal and did manage to acquire the highest draft choice in return.

Three time Pro Bowl DT Marcus Stroud for picks in the 3rd and 5th rounds.
Stroud entered the 2007 season as a star player. Unfortunately in 2007 he was suspended for violating the league's drug policy and finished the season on injured reserve. Williams is younger and healthier than Stroud, and obtaining the 56th pick is better than the what I guess are approximately the 74th and 138th picks. Jacksonville sold low on Stroud, in part because their defense played just as well with him out.

Two time Pro Bowl DT Shaun Rogers for a 3rd round (approximately 87th overall) pick and CB Leigh Bodden. Rogers comes with a lot more baggage, battling coaches with his weight and he too has been suspended in the past for violating the league's substance abuse policy, but he might have a higher ceiling than Williams. It seems impossible since the move was made by Matt Millen for a player he either had to trade or release before March 1st, but this might a better haul than the Packers got for Williams. Obviously the pick is lower, but Bodden was outstanding in 2005 and 2006 before injuries held him back in 2007. If Bodden bounces back in 2008, then this is a great trade for Detroit.

DT Jason Ferguson for a swap of Dallas' 2008 6th round pick for Miami's higher 6th round pick, plus Miami's 6th round pick in 2009.
Ferguson is coming off a season lost to injury and this is a bargain move made by Bill Parcells to bring one of his guys from New York and Dallas with him to Miami. Obviously the Packers got a far superior haul.

Three time Pro Bowl DT Kris Jenkins for picks in the 3rd (67th overall) and 5th (131st overall) rounds.
The third Pro Bowl defensive tackle to be traded in a week. That has to be some kind of record. Jenkins has been unhappy for over a year, and he signed a new contract with the Jets with $20 million in guaranteed money. This deal makes it look like Cleveland overpaid for Williams. Jenkins is a bigger name and long time starter that required a big money deal once he was traded. However Cleveland gave up a higher pick for a backup in Green Bay then the Jets gave up for a three time Pro Bowl player.

DT Dewayne Robertson for picks in the 4th (114 overall) and 5th (151 overall) rounds.
The Jets make a move to clear cap space for Jenkins and recoup two picks. The Packers certainly got more for Williams than the Jets got for Robertson, who is a former 4th overall pick. The Jets upgrade at nose tackle and still have two, albeit lower, mid-round draft choices. That's the big difference between a tackle like Robertson who is expected to clog the middle, while Williams is expected to provide a pass rush and sacks.

So long as Thompson uses Cleveland's 2nd round pick wisely, the Packers got the best deal in trade as anybody else in the NFL who traded a defensive tackle, and for a player who has never gotten anywhere near a Pro Bowl.