In 2006, the Packers made arguably one of their biggest free agent signings aside from Reggie White of course. Charles Woodson had some of his best years in Green Bay, and was crucial taking the Packers back to the Super Bowl. Again, the Packers have the chance to add a player this off-season with a similar effect as Woodson. Earl Thomas should be priority number one when it comes to adding an outside free agent.
There are only two knocks against Thomas. He will be 30 in May (Woodson was also 30 when he signed with Green Bay), and he is coming off of a broken leg. I personally, don’t see any concern with either of these things. It is evident Earl Thomas still wants to play, and more importantly than that he can still play at a very high level. Thomas was the highest graded safety in the league before his injury, perhaps proving that age is simply a number. I believe he could play at least another five years providing he stays healthy. The broken leg is not a huge concern either. The rehab these players go through and the surgeries are unbelievable. Players are coming back from ACL injuries in 6-8 months. Clean breaks are not an issue.
However, what is far more important than looking at the “possible” negatives is what Thomas can bring to the Packers. The group of defensive players for the Packers are molding into a younger confident/cocky athletic bunch of guys, but they are extremely young. They need an established veteran presence, an alpha leader. Earl Thomas could not only be that leader, but he is the missing piece overall in the secondary.
He is the safety the Packers have been aching for and missing for years. With essentially no proven safety on the roster, Thomas fills a huge need in the secondary. He will instantly make other players better (i.e. Josh Jones), and honestly Thomas and Jaire playing together makes me feel a certain type of way. This move would also allow players to play in their natural positions like Tramon Williams. It will also let Josh Jackson play in his best position whether that is corner or learning to play safety behind Thomas. He is molding these young players into the type of players that can run the league for years to come. Earl Thomas did it in Seattle as one of the only main stays of the “Legion of Boom”, and he can do it in Green Bay with the “Snow Fly Zone”.
Earl Thomas brings a number of measurables with him, but he brings so many intangibles as well. This is what can really set him apart from the other free agent prospects. I do not believe you will get the same things he can bring to the table with any other free agent safety out there. The knowledge and experience in the film room, locker room, and on the field. He is a special player, and he could be one of the pieces that helps get the Packers back to the Super Bowl again.