Nicole Haase. 4th November, 2008 - 6:51 pm
Did the Packers learn nothing after they gave Ryan Grant a large contract this past off-season that is thus far completely unwarranted?
Grant?s four-year deal, worth up to $30 million, has been unjustified and unearned by a running back that last year rushed for 956 yards and scored eight touchdowns in just ten games. This season he has managed just 550 yards and a one score in eight games.
The lesson from that signing should have been that a team doesn't give a guy a long-term contract and millions of dollars until he?s tried and true.
Yet, this week GM Ted Thompson and the Packers extended the contract of Aaron Rodgers through the 2014 season after just seven games under center as the team?s starting quarterback.
The deal is reportedly worth more than $11 million a year and has $20 million in guarantees.
All that for a player who has yet to make it through an entire season without suffering a major injury or lead his team to the playoffs.
Rodgers? numbers have been better than expected, and he has played through shoulder pain, but it still feels awfully early to tie the team?s fortunes to a fairly untested player for the next six years.
The obvious question is ?why now?? on this contract for Rodgers.
There have been no whispers or questions about Rodgers? status with the team. This past summer?s Favre drama ensured that everyone knows the team views Rodgers as their franchise quarterback, and that makes this contract seem sudden and unnecessary. Last summer?s debacle didn?t seem to accomplish much other than showing Thompson?s complete faith in Rodgers. And yet, signing the contract extension this week comes off as another move meant to show that the Packers really believe in Rodgers.
No really. They believe in him. A lot. Just in case that wasn?t clear enough.
It almost feels as though the Packers are more interested in making symbolic moves than they are with improving the product on the field.
While waiving Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila was the right move when looking that he had the team?s highest cap salary and just a half of sack this season, it was mostly a move meant for headlines. Losing KGB won?t lead to a better signing ? they didn?t need the cap room; they were already $30 million under (before the Rodgers' signing).
Some are saying the Rodgers' signing ?legitimizes? the quarterback, but it?s hard to imagine the Packers? messy divorce from Favre and the subsequent multiple assertions by Thompson that Rodgers is the guy didn?t already accomplish that.
Are these front office moves smoke and mirrors to keep the headlines away from the real issues in Green Bay?
Despite high expectations and a decent start to the season, the Packers sit at 4-4, a game back of the Bears in the division. They now are relying as much on what other teams don?t do as what they are accomplishing in order to make the playoffs.
With every team in the NFC East currently above .500, it?s obvious that winning the division is the only way the Packers make the postseason.
The major issue for the Packers in Week 9 was the same as it was through the first few weeks. The run game, on both sides of the ball, is absolutely killing the team?s chances at winning games.
The defense ranks 30th in the league, allowing 4.9 yards per rush. Four of the eight teams they?ve played have rushed for at least 175 yards. It?s no secret that the Packers can?t stop the run, and this week they face Adrian Peterson, so things aren?t likely to get any better.
On their side of the ball, the Packers have just four rushing touchdowns; three of them were scored by Rodgers. Grant hasn?t broken a rush of more than 20 yards since the 57-yarder he managed the first week of the season. Happily, that was against Minnesota, so fans can hope he manages to break another in Week 10.
Green Bay?s lack of run production might be to blame for the team?s four red-zone trips on Sunday that amounted to only one touchdown. Prior to Sunday, the Packers had converted on just 58% of their red-zone opportunities.
Rodgers? fourth quarter fumble and interception, combined with the defense?s sudden inability to stop a team they had held in check for three and a half quarters, meant a second game in which the Packers were unable to close out a win that was in their grasp.
Nicole Haase is a RealGM contributor, and her work can also be found on CuteSports.blogspot.com.