Tuesday's SportsNation chat provided us the opportunity to catch everyone up on why the Green Bay Packers have kept defensive lineman Johnny Jolly on their roster following his three-year suspension from the NFL. First, the exchange:
otto (happy hour)
Do you see the Packers currently keeping Jolly on the roster as a sign that the Pack is in win now mode? He has signed/kept several players with questionable backgrounds over the last couple years.
Kevin Seifert (2:28 PM)
No. Just a sign that he was once a good player and there is no downside to finding out whether he can still play.
From the top, I don't think Otto's premise was accurate. (Maybe it was the Happy Hour fog.) Packers general manager Ted Thompson hasn't taken many obvious character risks in recent years, especially with players who have established criminal records. Running back Cedric Benson certainly had a long history of legal entanglements when he signed last summer, but I find it difficult to establish a pattern beyond that.
Anyway, there is no doubt Jolly has had some troubled years that robbed him of the prime of his career. But from the Packers' perspective, there really is not much harm -- other than the presumed potential of a new issue arising that would taint the franchise -- to keeping him on the roster this spring.
The Packers have already re-written his contract to eliminate any financial risk. They wouldn't owe him anything unless he is on the roster for Week 1 of the regular season, and even then they would be paying him the minimum ($715,000) for a player of his experience.
So in essence, the Packers get a "free" four months before training camp to decide if Jolly can challenge for a roster spot. That process will start when Jolly shows up for the team's offseason program, which Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports should happen soon. There's nothing "win now" about that approach. It's more just "win," which is what every NFL team is trying to do.