Rodgers’ Comments, Worthy Trade Send Message

Worthy (Benny Sieu/USA TODAY)

Aaron Rodgers' comments about "entitlement" and the trade of underperforming Jerel Worthy should serve as a wakeup call for any player resting on his laurels.

During his weekly media sessions at his locker, Aaron Rodgers rarely, if ever, goes off his personal script.

So, chances are Rodgers was trying to send a message in the midst of answering a question about the Green Bay Packers’ success with undrafted free agents.

“You have to earn a spot on this team,” Rodgers said on Tuesday. “I think you’re seeing it with this draft class, the maturity about them, the lack of the entitlement that maybe we’ve seen in some other draft classes.”

Reporters — including this one — foolishly failed to follow up on Rodgers’ statement. Therefore, it’s anyone’s guess what player (or players) Rodgers had in mind when he made his provocative comment. So, perhaps it’s pure coincidence that the Packers gave up on Jerel Worthy on Tuesday, with the 2012 second-round pick being dispatched to New England for a bowl of clam chowder.

The Packers, with their draft-and-develop blueprint, have been thrown for a loss with their 2012 draft class. Remember, Green Bay was coming off the worst defensive season in franchise history when general manager Ted Thompson used his first six draft picks on defensive players.

First-round pick Nick Perry has played in 17 of a possible 32 regular-season games due to injuries. Following an offseason practice, linebackers coach Winston Moss said Perry had done “absolutely zero,” though he said two weeks ago that his comments were taken out of context. Either way, as the team’s No. 4 outside linebacker, his snaps might be few and far between this season if everyone stays healthy.

Thompson traded up in the second round to land Worthy. For that investment, the team received 2.5 million words of unbridled optimism but only 2.5 sacks.

Thompson traded back into the second round to land cornerback Casey Hayward, who had an All-Rookie season with six interceptions. His 2013 was a lost cause due to a series of hamstring problems. He’s had a solid training camp this summer but hasn’t challenged for a starting job.

The team hit a home run by adding defensive tackle Mike Daniels with the first of its fourth-round compensatory picks but swung and missed on safety Jerron McMillian, who was an accident waiting to happen in the passing game. Fifth-round linebacker Terrell Manning, his rookie season derailed by colitis, has three career tackles but five career teams.

In the three drafts from 2011 through 2013, the team used eight draft picks in the first, second and third rounds. For that investment, Green Bay gained just two proven starters (Randall Cobb and Eddie Lacy). That’s equal to the number of players who no longer are on the roster (Alex Green and Worthy).

The three first-round picks were Derek Sherrod, Perry and Datone Jones. Sherrod’s career has gone nowhere, through no fault of his own. Because of Perry’s problems, the Packers signed Julius Peppers and drafted Carl Bradford. Jones, who said he finished last season “strong” — even though he barely played down the stretch — has had a so-so training camp but is slated to start anyway.

Who knows the subject of Rodgers’ comments, and who knows if the Worthy trade was Thompson’s way of sending a message to anyone feeling “entitled.” Regardless, for a team that hasn’t had a single major change of the depth chart during training camp, the trade ought to put some players on alert.


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.

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