We have no evidence that Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson plans to veer from his recent offseason policy of building exclusively through the draft. The last significant veteran free agent the Packers signed was linebacker Brandon Chillar in 2008, and in the past two seasons the Packers have won 29 of 37 games without tapping the quick fixes available in the free agent market.
All the same, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is already laying the groundwork in the event of an exception to that approach. Speaking Wednesday on his ESPN 540 radio show, Rodgers said he plans to spend some time at the Pro Bowl this week talking up the advantages of playing in Green Bay. Rodgers referenced a 2009 episode when defensive lineman Chris Canty turned down a visit and said he is trying to get "in some of these guys' ears about how we got it in Green Bay."
"Green Bay is becoming a more desirable place, I've got to think," Rodgers said. "It's not the same place that Chris Canty refused to take a trip to unless there was a contract in place. … We haven't really been a big free agent team. That being said, I think there's a good possibility that we might go out and get somebody on the defensive side of the ball, or as we've done in the past, use one of our top draft picks to pick maybe an outside rusher or maybe a defensive back."
The Packers certainly have a need for either a pass-rushing defensive end or linebacker. Typically, teams lock up established pass-rushers with long-term contracts before free agency, but the projected $120 million salary cap could flood the market with more credible players than normal. If, for example, the Detroit Lions can't keep defensive end Cliff Avril, you wonder if the Packers would considering him as a 3-4 linebacker. Stay tuned.