INDIANAPOLIS — Ted Thompson is understandably cautious about revealing any of the inner workings of the Green Bay Packers’ front office. The quiet, unassuming 60-year-old general manager has always operated this way.
It’s not that Thompson is unwilling to answer certain questions or discuss broad topics, but if the subject at hand would potentially turn what he deems confidential information into public knowledge, he shuts it down quickly.
Thompson’s media session Friday at the NFL Scouting Combine was no different.
Is defensive coordinator Dom Capers, whose group gave up 45 points in a postseason loss, going to return for the 2013 season?
“I don’t want to get into it,” Thompson said. “All of our staff is intact.”
Is the team under the salary cap enough to accomplish its goals this offseason?
“I don’t think I’ve ever talked about the cap publicly and I’m not going to start right now,” Thompson replied. “But good question.”
Does Thompson expect Jermichael Finley, who is due a $3.5 million roster bonus in March, to still be on Green Bay’s roster next season?
“I would expect all of our guys to be on our team,” Thompson said.
How about unrestricted free agent Greg Jennings? Any chance the 29-year-old wide receiver returns to the Packers with a new contract?
“I’m not going to talk specifically about any of our scheduled to be unrestricted free agents other than to say it is our policy — we think it’s a good way to manage the NFL if you’re able to retain your own players,” Thompson said. “We’d very much like to do that, and that includes Greg.”
Any chance of discussing whether running back Cedric Benson will be back in Green Bay for a second season?
“Cedric is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent,” Thompson said. “We don’t discuss specifically those guys other than to say that we think it’s our best practice to try to retain as many of those guys as we can.”
So, to recap, the Packers like to retain their own players.
Thompson’s former understudy, John Schneider, who is now the general manager of the Seattle Seahawks, has a much different personality. Schneider is outgoing, funny and willing to openly speak about topics such as the franchise tag. But Schneider knows Thompson is never going to behave that way publicly.
“I think he’s very smart, very calculating,” Schneider said of Thompson. “He knows what he wants to do and what he doesn’t want to do. Believe it or not, he’s very fun to hang out with. I’ve seen him on TV and stuff. I think he’s way better at it. He’s gotten much better and much more comfortable. It’s not the easiest thing in the world to do. It’s part of the job.”
Certainly, though, Thompson might now be willing — a year later — to admit that he drafted six defensive players on purpose in 2012 and that it wasn’t just a random occurrence that all the best players available were defenders, as he claimed at the time.
Nope. Thompson continued to deny that Friday.
“We drafted guys that we thought were good players and would come in and make an impact for us,” he said. “And that’s what we hope to do this year.”
Did the Packers hang onto now-retired wide receiver Donald Driver one season too long?
“No, no,” Thompson said. “Donald was prepared to play last year. He didn’t get an opportunity to play a whole lot, but he’s a good player.”
That’s just how Thompson is. But whatever he’s doing is working, as the Packers continue to be one of the most consistently successful franchises in the NFL.