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Packers Miss Opportunity To Improve With Gonzalez
Nicole Haase. 15th October, 2008 - 11:59 am

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Another one bites the dust.

The ability to land an elite, veteran NFL player slipped through the grasp of the Green Bay Packers on Tuesday when Ted Thompson failed to meet the demands of the Kansas City Chiefs for tight end Tony Gonzalez.

Reports came out early Wednesday that the Packers had offered a third round pick for Gonzalez, who holds the record for tight-ends with 841 catches for 10,075 yards and 68 touchdowns.

Gonzalez had let it be known that he was looking to be traded before Tuesday?s NFL trade deadline, and the Chiefs said they were amenable. Near the end of an already stellar career, Gonzalez had said he was looking to play 3 more seasons and was hoping to play for a contender, implying the rebuilding, 1-4 Chiefs weren?t that team. The Packers reportedly offered a third round pick for him. The Chiefs wanted a second round pick.

The Packers lost out.

So did Tony Gonzalez, who?s reportedly livid that the Chiefs let the chance slip but over something like second versus third round compensation.

Of course, this isn?t the first time Thompson?s balked at sending a high draft choice to a team in order to receive a premier player. What about the Randy Moss debacle of 2007? Or how about, in 2006, when Thompson wouldn?t trade with San Diego for then-backup-running-back Michael Turner?

Yes, that Michael Turner. The one who so far this season, since emerging from behind LaDanian Tomlinson to play for the Falcons has six TDs, 128 carries and 597 yards. The one who owned the Packers offense two weeks ago when he rushed for 121 yards and a TD.

Gonzalez would add another weapon to the no-longer-under-the-radar duo of Greg Jennings and Donald Driver. The rest of the receiving core has yet to gel with Rodgers and Gonzalez would have been an additional weapon that defenses wouldn?t have been able to ignore.

Despite having signed tight end Donald Lee to a 4-year, not-quite $12 million contract about this time last year, Lee hasn?t found a spot in Aaron Rodgers? rotation of receivers this season. After last years 575 yards and 6 TDs, Lee?s 17 catches for 118 yards and one touchdown aren?t the impressive numbers fans were hoping for.

Longtime Packer fans should remember what it was like when Bubba Franks was as much of a threat as the wide receivers Brett Favre had in his arsenal from 2001-2004. Over that time, Franks averaged almost 7 TDs, more than 341 yards and 38 receptions per season.

Compare that to the Packers WRs of that time. Driver averaged just fewer than 55 receptions and just over 5 TDs over the same span. From 2002-2004, Javon Walker averaged 51 receptions and 7 TDs a year and Robert Ferguson averaged 28 receptions and under 3 TDs per season. From 2001-2003, Antonio Freeman averaged 37 receptions and 3.5 TDs a season.

Having the elite TE gave Favre another option, spread the field and forced defenses to choose which weapon to cover hardest. In the best of situations, it gave Favre 4 or 5 options to check down to on any given play.

But it?s not just Gonzalez?s stats that should have spurred Thompson to move. The veteran presence of a guy hungry for a ring is not something that can be measured in draft pick value. He?s never won a playoff game. He has made a record nine straight Pro Bowl appearances and is familiar with head coach Mike McCarthy, quarterbacks coach Tom Clements, special teams coach Mike Stock, DE coach Carl Hairston and secondary coach Kurt Schottenheimer, as well vice president Russ Ball and personnel director John Schneider, all from time each man had spent working in Kansas City.

It should be noted that, in addition to their normal seven picks in the upcoming draft, the Packers will have the compensation pick for Favre, ranging anywhere from the fourth to the first round, as well as a six-round pick from New Orleans received when we traded our final pick of this season?s draft.

Under Ted Thompson, in the second round, the Packers have drafted Nick Collins, Terrence Murphy, Daryn Colledge, Greg Jennings, Brandon Jackson, Jordy Nelson, Brian Brohm and Pat Lee. In the third round during the same time period, they?ve drafted James Jones, Aaron Rouse, Abdul Hodge and Jason Spitz.

It doesn?t seem as though either group of players stands out more than the other, so it makes one wonder why Thompson was so unwilling to give up a second round pick instead of a third round pick.

With a struggling offense and plenty of cap money, why didn?t Thompson pull the trigger to acquire Gonzalez?