The Green Bay Packers are one of the most storied franchises in the history of the NFL, and they have a rich history when it comes to NFL free agency.
Free agency in the NFL began in 1989, and it was a significant change from the previous system, in which players were essentially owned by their teams for their entire careers. Under the new system, players were allowed to negotiate contracts with other teams once their contracts with their current teams had expired.
In the early days of free agency, the Packers were not particularly active. They did make some key signings, however, including the acquisition of defensive end Reggie White in 1993. White was one of the most dominant players in the league at the time, and he played a key role in helping the Packers win Super Bowl XXXI in 1997.
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No big name signings for a while
The Packers continued to make some notable signings in the years that followed. In 2002, they signed defensive end Joe Johnson, who had been a Pro Bowler with the New Orleans Saints. The following year, they signed defensive tackle Grady Jackson, who went on to have several productive seasons in Green Bay.
However, the Packers’ approach to free agency changed significantly in the late 2000s. Under the leadership of general manager Ted Thompson, the team became much more conservative in its approach to free agency, focusing instead on building through the draft.
Thompson’s philosophy was based on the idea that building through the draft was a more sustainable and cost-effective way to build a team than relying on expensive free agents. This approach led to some successful draft picks, including quarterback Aaron Rodgers and wide receiver Greg Jennings.
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Another big signing, another Super Bowl
However, the Packers did make some notable free agent signings during this period as well. In 2010, they signed cornerback Charles Woodson, who had been released by the Oakland Raiders. Woodson was a key player for the Packers during their Super Bowl XLV-winning season, and he went on to be a Pro Bowler in three of his seven seasons with the team.
The Packers also signed some other key players during this period, including defensive end Julius Peppers and tight end Martellus Bennett. Peppers was a productive player for the Packers in his three seasons with the team, while Bennett didn’t even make it a full season in Green Bay before being released.
In recent years, the Packers have continued to be relatively conservative in their approach to free agency. They have made some key signings, such as defensive ends Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith, as well as safety Adrian Amos, but they have generally focused on building through the draft and developing young players.
Overall, the Packers’ history in NFL free agency has been a mixed one. They have made some key signings that have helped them win championships, but they have also had periods of relative inactivity. Today, the team’s approach to free agency remains focused on building through the draft. Because of their current salary cap situation, that’s all they can do.