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From draft-and-develop to all-in: Packers reload for another title chase

From ESPN - September 17, 2017

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Who are you and what have you done with Ted Thompson?

That might be the line of questioning if the Green Bay Packers general manager were still holding the weekly media conferences that he did in training camp. But Thompson, like he does every year, goes radio silent after the preseason, so all thats left to do is speculate on why he seemingly has made such a significant shift in philosophy when it comes to adding players to his roster.

What once was almost strictly a draft-and-develop philosophy -- it wasnt that long ago when 51 of the Packers 53 players were homegrown talent -- has taken a dramatic turn. Thompson used free agency copiously both in the offseason and even after most teams had their rosters set. From tight end Martellus Bennett on March 10 to defensive tackle Quinton Dial on Sept. 5, Thompson signed seven veterans who played last season for other teams. Last years opening-day 53-man roster contained just one: tight end Jared Cook.

Its the realization that they needed to get better, a longtime NFL executive familiar with Thompson said when asked about his philosophical shift.

When asked whether Thompson believed the Packers were close and needed a final few pieces or if they were far away and needed a big change, the source said it was the former.

It also begged the question of whether Thompson has loosened his grip on the decision-making. At age 64, he has admitted to cutting back his scouting schedule on the road, but there were indications during the draft that he allowed his top personnel men -- director of football operations Eliot Wolf, director of player personnel Brian Gutekunst and senior personnel executive Alonzo Highsmith -- to have more input.

Hes listening to Alonzo, Brian and Eliot, the NFL executive said.

And maybe he listened to his quarterback too.

Aaron Rodgers remarks after the NFC Championship Game loss at Atlanta -- when he said: We have just got to make sure we are going all-in every year to win, and I think we can take a big step this offseason" -- sounded like a plea for Thompson to be more proactive, even if the general manager said he did not take it that way.

To this day, Rodgers, who also said after the NFC title game loss that I dont think we need to rebuild; we need to reload, has never clarified the exact meaning of his remarks but when asked this week whether he thought the Packers did go all-in, he chose his words carefully.

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