Many fans of the Green Bay Packers credit (or blame) the team's careful salary-cap management on general manager Ted Thompson. While Thompson does indeed pass down the protocol to his subordinates, the person actually charged with executing the plan is Russ Ball.
Most teams have dedicated negotiators and cap specialists, but few give as much authority as Green Bay does with Ball. Personnel executives such as Eliot Wolf and Brian Gutekunst garner more attention, but Ball actually has as much or more impact on how the team looks each year. As such, some believe Ball could become a GM at some point in the future.
With that in mind, learning more about Ball has become a greater focus of the reporting on the Packers.
Michael Cohen's excellent series on the Packers' chief negotiator continues with a lengthy discussion on how Russ Ball balances the team's salary-cap doctrine (one of the most frugal in the league) with the need to retain the best players. While Ted Thompson makes the big decisions, Ball handles all of the contract negotiations, making him one of the most important and influential executives in the NFL.
Unlike in past years when Mike McCarthy balanced the Packers' offseason practice time relatively evenly between offense and defense, the coach plans to lean more heavily on work for the pass defense. This, of course, comes as a direct response to the way Green Bay's season ended in Atlanta.
While Davon House's reputation fell off last year after the Jacksonville Jaguars utilized him more infrequently, his regression had more to do with a change in defensive scheme than diminished physical ability. Back in Green Bay after a two-year absence, House now returns to a scheme in which he played his best football.