But now that free agency has been in play for several days and the draft is upcoming at the end of next month...well, things start to get a bit real again, don't they?
So, let's just catch up on a few things that have happened since we last gathered here, shall we? This is by no means a comprehensive list. More of a top-of-mind thing. You can fill in the gaps.
- WR Donald Driver officially retired.
- CB/S and future Hall of Famer Charles Woodson was released.
- DE Johnny Jolly got reinstated by the NFL and the Packers (seemingly) have decided to give him another chance.
- LB A.J. Hawk took a pay cut and agreed to restructure his contract.
- LB Robert Francois was re-signed.
- WR Greg Jennings was not re-signed in free agency and wound up signing a five-year, $47.5 million(!) deal with the ViQueens, joining a long list of former Packers over the years who the 'Queens have scavenged from the Pack...oh, and Minnesota still hasn't won a Super Bowl.
- TE, human tatto canvas, and all-around fun guy Tom Crabtree was also allowed to explore free agency and the gamble by the Packers failed; Crabtree has apparently reached a deal with Tampa Bay. Dang it! (Good luck, Tom. We will miss you.)
- LB Erik Walden signed an unbelievable contract (reportedly four years for around $16 million!) with the Colts. Huge pay day for an average-at-best linebacker.
- LB Brad Jones may be about to reach a deal with Tennessee.
- Free agents whom the Packers had interest in but who signed elsewhere included DE Chris Canty and RB Steven Jackson.
- TE Jermichael Finley may still have his contract restructured...or he could also be playing elsewhere next season.
- Gaining salary cap room appears to be setting the Packers up to extend the contracts of QB Aaron Rodgers, LB Clay Matthews, and NT B.J. Raji.
- Packers GM Ted Thompson attended the Indianapolis Draft Combine as well as the University of Wisconsin pro day (and perhaps others as well). Thompson, according to reports out of the Wisconsin pro day, was very impressed with RB Montee Ball. Ball made himself some future extra money that day, by besting his Combine 40-yard time. Thompson is reportedly impressed with Ball's all-round skills.
Our last bullet point in the list above began to hint at the upcoming draft. This will be a big one for the Packers (aren't they all?) given the number of departures from the team, as well as the obvious needs: defense, running back, defense, offensive line and...defense.
Would the Packers use their top draft pick -- number 26 overall -- on a running back? Some mock drafts think so, with several projecting Alabama running back Eddie Lacey as the best of the crop and perhaps available when the Packers are on the board. Some compare him to Frank Gore. He's a powerful back, more adept at rushing than receiving and not a good blocker. In the Packers' scheme, blocking is a premium. That may mean -- if the Packers look to actually find a featured back for the first time in seemingly a generation -- that they look Montee Ball's way. The Packers could do far worse than taking Ball. But whether they see him as a first round pick...? Time will tell.
As for other possible first-round picks, the mock draft boards are all over the place. So until we get a little closer to the draft, where things may begin to sort themselves out a bit, we'll refrain for the moment from joining in the speculation.
Well, Packer fans, we did a bit of catching up today. Hope you found it helpful. We'll be a bit more regular here now that the off-season stuff starts to gear up a bit. So, please, check back once in a while, will you please? Thanks. We appreciate you reading. We really do.