This week, ESPN’s Field Yates spoke to a group of scouts from various NFL teams about free agency and the NFL Draft during the 2017 offseason. One of the questions he asked these scouts was for one decision (or set of decisions) by another team that they feel was the best or most effective across the entire league.
The results were all over the board. Three of the items that were named involved the Cleveland Browns: one mentioned the team’s signings for the offensive line, one discussed the drafting of Jabrill Peppers, and another praised Houston’s unloading of Brock Osweiler and his contract on Cleveland.
However, the Green Bay Packers were on the mind of one particular scout, and it was the team’s decision to make a splash in free agency this season that stood out. Specifically, he mentioned the signings of the two new tight ends who will bolster the options in the middle of the field. Here is an excerpt from Yates’ piece:
"[The] Packers' taking a rare dip into free agency and getting both Martellus Bennett and Lance Kendricks," (the scout) said when asked about his favorite offseason move. "The Packers haven't had a true threat at tight end since Jermichael Finley flashed a few years ago, and they've lacked a consistent presence at the position since Bubba Franks. This isn't quite Mark Chmura and Keith Jackson, but these moves give Mike McCarthy a lot of playcalling flexibility to put stress on safeties and linebackers. He's smart enough to know how to use the two of them, and Aaron Rodgers is deadly throwing seam balls."
To be sure, Packers fans are and should be excited about these moves. Bennett is a truly complete tight end, the likes of which the Packers have not had since perhaps Chmura in the mid-1990s. That in and of itself makes this offseason an exciting one for the offense, but it is even more fun to see the moves that we are thrilled about getting recognized by sources in personnel departments around the NFL.
Although this scout specifically discussed the tight end signings, the Packers’ other free agent signings are worth mentioning as well. The team used that area of personnel acquisition in a very different way this year than they have in the past: to fill significant holes on the roster with veteran players. Cornerback Davon House, defensive lineman Ricky Jean Francois, and guard Jahri Evans all represent ideal signings. For once, Ted Thompson found multiple players on the open market who should be able to contribute in meaningful ways.
Seeing Thompson dive into the free agency waters — whether it was due to fortunate conditions or a truly different approach — should have Packers fans excited for the upcoming season. Seeing NFL scouts praise those moves should only further those positive feelings.