Tuesday's SportsNation chat brought a nuanced discussion amid the continuing intra-division flow from the Green Bay Packers to the Minnesota Vikings. It's usually assumed that successful general managers only allow veteran players to leave when their careers are on the downturn, but that hasn't always been the case with the Packers' Ted Thompson.
The difference: Thompson is willing to part ways with still-productive veterans when he is relatively certain he either has a suitable replacement or that he can find one imminently. The relevant discussion:
JR. Eau Claire Wi [via mobile]
When will the Vikings start paying Ted Thompson for being their GM too?
Kevin Seifert (2:02 PM)
Ha. Was talking about this the other day with someone. The Packers have been so good at developing young talent that their castoffs are more than worth sifting through. When the Packers release someone or let them leave via free agency, it doesn't mean they can't play anymore. It just means the Packers have younger and/or cheaper players they want to use instead.
Referring to my earlier comment, Thompson had [Aaron] Rodgers and [Mason] Crosby to replace [Brett] Favre and [Ryan] Longwell. They're still trying to find a guard to replace [Mike] Wahle/[Marco] Rivera and a pass rushing 3 down DE like [Cullen] Jenkins. Nick Collins also effectively replaced [Darren] Sharper who also had a few good years left. The career ending injury was more of a fluke thing but you can't deny Packers had Collins to replace Sharper.
Kevin Seifert (2:26 PM)
There's a difference between having good players to replace departed veterans, which the Packers did, and letting players go when you judge their careers to be done, which the Packers did not. They have released players who still have some tread on the tires. In most cases it was prompted by having a worthy replacement on hand, but that doesn't mean those players' careers were over when they were released.
Otto (Happy Hour)
About the Thompson comments. It was definitely an unknown that Rodgers would develop into the league's best QB. Remember early in his career the talk was can he stay healthy enough to replace a legend.
Kevin Seifert (2:30 PM)
True from the outside, but while the Packers didn't know Rodgers would become an MVP, they did feel very confident that he was ready to play at a high level. If their backup at the time was, say, Graham Harrell, I think they would have been more receptive to Favre's return.
One addendum to that discussion: Longwell departed after the 2005 season, and in 2006 the Packers used Dave Rayner as their place-kicker. They made Crosby a sixth-round draft pick in 2007.