Friday, March 03, 2006

Diggs Dumped, Chatman Chucked

Freeing up salary cap room and signaling changes in direction, the Packers waived both LB Na'il Diggs and WR Antonio Chatman.

The Packers indicated that the decision with Diggs was one with which all defensive coaches agreed. As new Head Coach Mike McCarthy was quoted as saying in today's Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, "Obviously, we want run and hit (linebackers). The defensive system is really predicated on that. Being able to run and match coverages. Good tackling, you want every defender to fit into that mold." Diggs' ability to do that over the last few years has been somewhat in decline. While he was still stout against the run, his ability to drop and cover receivers was lacking. Clearly, the Pack wants linebackers who are both hard hitters and mobile. One may legitimately question, however, whether the current linebacker corps -- arguably one of the weakest in the NFL at this time -- meets that criteria. Here are the Pack's current LBs: Nick Barnett, Robert Thomas, Paris Lenon, Roy Manning, Brady Poppinga, Kurt Campbell and John Leake. Poppinga may not even be available this season because of the ACL injury and surgery he had late in the season. There were some reports, however, that the Packers were interested in San Francisco free agent LB Derek Smith, a 10-year vet. Also look to other free agent possibilities and the draft to help resurrect the Pack's linebacking unit.

As for Chatman, his agent was told by Reggie McKenzie, the team's director of pro personnel, that "it's a new system and they want big receivers." Coach McCarthy said, "I've always been a fan of big, physical people at that position. The bigger the target, the better your accuracy. We've got a lot of depth at that position." Maybe so. But you have to still tip your hat to Chatman who, at 5-8, still had one of the biggest hearts on the team and would do whatever was asked of him to contribute. The Packers will also have to replace him on punt and kickoff returns, where he was a sure-handed, if not explosive, returner. But McCarthy indicated that the new coaching staff did not see him playing on special teams any longer, only on offense. And if the offense is predicated on bigger receivers...well...bye-bye now.