John Schneider is the 38-year old now-former director of football operations for the Green Bay Packers. He has been a part of scouting departments across the league -- including your Seattle Seahawks -- for the past 17 years. What has Schneider been doing? Well, according to the Packers' bio of him, Schneider is tasked with:
addressing and evaluating the needs of the team in both free agency and in the draft, incorporating a long-range planning process that examines the Packers' roster, as well as the rosters of all NFL teams, and takes into account the potential effects of injuries and salary cap issues, and explores possible trade scenarios.
A couple of things we can assume, though perhaps incorrectly, about Schneider based on the recent Packers trends:
- Free agency is generally avoided. Brian McIntyre's got the numbers: since 2002, the Packers have signed just 3 unrestricted free agents.
- The team will be built through the draft. That's how the Packers have done it, and after seeing our recent history of free agent signings (Julius Jones, TJ Duckett, Edgerrin James to focus on just one position) it might make sense to take a different approach.
- Look for well-placed trades. The Packers haven't operated like the Patriots on draft day -- finding one guy, assigning his value, and trading every pick they can for more picks before taking him right where they wanted him -- but they're no strangers to trades. They've got a history of draft pick trades in recent years, including trading a 2nd round pick to the Patriots for a 2 and 3. They drafted their starting center and Greg Jennings, while the Pats drafted Chad Jackson (who is out of the league). [Hat tip again to Brian McIntyre for the deets on that particular trade.]
- A Long term plan. Don't expect things to be fixed in year one. Schneider and Thompson have taken a long-view approach to building the Packers, constantly assessing their strengths and weaknesses, planning for injuries, and looking ahead years in advance at times. Aaron Rodgers is a perfect example of this; it takes a gutsy guy to take a QB in the top 10 picks when you have a Hall of Famer tossing the pigskin around, and a gutsier guy still to send the hall of famer packing when he tries to beg his way back onto the team.