Monday, July 25, 2011

Ding dong the deal is done!

At long last, the NFL lockout is over, although the players still have to ratify the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) and recertify their union. Bottom line: those are formalities and it's a done deal.

So, let's say it loud and say it proud: Go Pack Go!!!

Yes, we fans of the Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers can now start chomping at the bit again. Because while free agent, drafted and undrafted rookie signings will now be compressed into the negotiating equivalent of a thimble, the Pack's existing roster is already loaded. Remember all the players coming back off IR from last season?

Questions, at least among fans, concern what the Pack will do with some of their own free agents, such as Cullen Jenkins, Daryn Colledge and James Jones among others. The consensus of the chit chat over the past few months seems to be about evenly split: some fans hope the Packers keep each of these players, some say let 'em walk. I have to admit to having a split mind on these guys myself. But there won't be a lot of guessing; we'll likely know by the end of the week who the Packers will re-sign and who they won't.

Keep in mind also that under the new CBA, the training camp rosters have been expanded by 10 players, from 80 to 90. That means Ted Thompson will have even more of a field day signing undrafted rookies for camp. The downside is that he and the coaching staff will have only about a month to evaluate them and set their final rosters. Given the depth of the Packers' roster it will be tough for a rookie, especially an undrafted one, to crack the regular season roster particularly given the accelerated learning curve. But Thompson is known for finding hidden gems, with last season being a prime example. So anything is possible.

It's going to be a busy time for all the players, coaches and management. Players can begin using team facilities tomorrow and, in the case of the Packers, report for camp Friday, with the likely first practice being on Saturday as previously scheduled. The first preseason game is still set for Aug. 13. There's a lot to be done before then. But if any team is in position to handle it all, it is the Packers.

No doubt, Packers shareholders will be hearing all about that -- and more -- at the upcoming shareholders meeting this Thursday at Lambeau Field.

For the first time for the upcoming 2011 season, say it with me: It's great to be a Packer fan!