Is the LOLB position still a concern for the Packers?

While it hasn’t even been a month since the Patriots released him, it’s becoming clearer by the day that Packers GM Ted Thompson isn’t interested in signing free agent Adalius Thomas. With Green Bay’s apparent need at outside linebacker, one would think that Thompson would have reached out to Thomas (who has lost a step over the years, but is still an effective pass rusher) by now.

But maybe Thompson is right when he says that the left outside linebacker position isn’t a dire need like many people believe it is. Maybe Brad Jones is the answer to replace Aaron Kampman (who signed with the Jaguars earlier this offseason) on a full-time basis.

When Kampman (who wasn’t an ideal fit at OLB in a 3-4 anyway) went down with an injury after Week 11 last year, it was Jones (a 2009 seventh round pick from Colorado) and not former starter Brady Poppinga who was placed into the starting lineup. With a playoff berth on the line, the Packers went with an unproven seventh round pick in Jones over a player with starting experience in Poppinga.

The move was either a testament to Jones’ abilities or a total slap in the face of Poppinga. Considering Thomas hasn’t received a call from Thompson, the former is probably more appropriate. The Packers obviously feel as though Jones is ready to become a full-time starter after he registered 27 tackles and four sacks in limited action last season. And considering Jones played in a 3-4 at Colorado, it’s apparent that his learning curve wasn’t that big when he went from college to the pros. He earned the starting position last season and barring a complete meltdown in training camp, it’s clear that he’ll have the same role in 2010.

If Jones blossoms into a reliable starter, then Thompson should be hailed for not only finding a late round gem, but also resisting the urge to sign Thomas. If Jones fails, then the Packers could be left with a gaping hole at the LOLB position and Thompson will be scrutinized for not addressing the need when he had a chance in the offseason.

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Ryan to take a pass on Thomas?

As the Baltimore Sun points out, based on his recent comments, it appears as though Rex Ryan and the Jets aren’t interested in free agent linebacker Adalius Thomas.

“I think with [Thomas] we’ll end up first in the league in defense, and without him we’ll end up first in the league in defense,” Ryan said. “If we get him, great. [But] I’m not worried about him, he’s not on our team.”

As I wrote last week, I believe the Packers would be a great fit for Thomas. GM Ted Thompson ignored the Packers’ need for a left outside linebacker in last month’s draft and while Brad Jones is a capable starter, Dom Capers’ defense would be better suited having two pass-rushers on the outside. (Clay Matthews is already a fixture on the right side after an outstanding rookie campaign.)

That said, Thompson is a no-frills kind of guy, so I imagine that if he were interested that Thomas would have already been up to Green Bay for a visit. As of now, the only teams that have shown interest in the free agent are the Jets and the 49ers, who went hard after Thomas in 2007 before he signed with the Patriots.

With OTAs ready to kick off, I wouldn’t be surprised if Thomas were signed soon. He has lost a step over the past two years, but teams are always in the market for pass-rushers.

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The Packers would be a great fit for Thomas

It was only a matter of time before the Patriots gave outside linebacker Adalius Thomas the boot. He was already stealing money from them with his poor play before he became a distraction last season, thus leading to his release on Monday.

One team’s trash is sometimes another team’s treasure, as the Packers could emerge as serious contenders for Thomas’ services. Even though GM Ted Thompson insists that the left outside linebacker position in Dom Capers’ 3-4 defense isn’t a dire need, it is.

2009 seventh round pick Brad Jones saw a fair amount of playing time last year when Aaron Kampman went down with an injury. But while he was decent against the run, he’s not the pass-rusher that Clay Matthews is on the other side. And in Capers’ system, both outside linebackers have to be able to get after the quarterback.

That’s where Thomas comes in. While the 33-year-old has lost a step over the past couple of years, Thomas can still get after the quarterback when he’s motivated. And seeing as how Thompson did nothing to upgrade the outside linebacker position during the draft, the Packers could use someone to push Jones for the starting job.

The Packers could upgrade their LOLB spot by adding Thomas to a one-year deal and still groom Jones for the future if they wanted. If Thomas turns out to be a bust, then Jones has already shown that he’s a capable starter and the team could rid themselves of Thomas after the season.

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