Sunday, March 7, 2010
Toldja So: Kampman To Jags, Packers With Nothing
A little less than a year ago, I postulated that the Packers might be better off trying to trade Aaron Kampman in his contract year, particularly in light of the fact they'd be moving him to an OLB that few believed would be seamless. Even moreso, Kampman was clearly unhappy with the move.
But, no, I was told. Kampman is our best defensive player, and there is no way you move him. He's going to be just fine in the 3-4.
Verdict: Even before his injury, Kampman was, at times, painful to watch in coverage. As the season wore on, Dom Capers starting putting him up occasionally at the line, sometimes with a hand on the ground, and you could see the old Kampman was still there. But his production was greatly diminished and led to the sunrise of rookie Clay Matthews and Brad Jones, both of whom appeared to be more effective as rookies than the old veteran.
I again made the proposal that the Packers should trade Kampman before the trade deadline: contract expiring, and we saw the transition problems already by that point. Again, I was told not to worry, that the Packers would either keep him, or get something of significance in return, as they would likely do a tag-and-trade as they did with Corey Willians.
Verdict: Neither. The Jacksonville Jaguars signed Kampman today as an unrestricted free agent. The Packers get no compensation, and the Jaguars not only get a great player, but a great human being and locker room leader.
In many ways, I can't be unhappy for Kampman, who deserved to finish his career with a team willing to maximize his talents, and that wasn't going to be Green Bay as long as they were running a 3-4.
But, I am confused on the Packers' approach to perhaps their most valuable defensive player aside from Charles Woodson. Not to bring up the F-word, but when general manager Ted Thompson claimed that the Packers had to get value for retired/unretired Brett Favre, they nearly drove the team into the ground trying to finagle a middling draft choice. Yet, Kampman was allowed to leave unfettered and with the Packers empty-handed.
This makes very little sense to me. With the uncertainty of the collective bargaining agreement, it seems evident thus far that Thompson is taking a cautionary approach to the offseason, tagging average players such as Daryn Colledge and re-signing Chad Clifton simply because it would be too expensive to upgrade their positions through free agency. Again, it appears that Thompson will be relying on the draft even more heavily in the face of the capless year.
So why, after holding out to garner a mere third round draft pick for Favre, did the Packers sit on Aaron Kampman over the last year and not put themselves in a position to get something in return? Sure, trading him sight unseen in the new scheme during last year's offseason would have been a daring move, but may have landed them a first-rounder, easily (as well as clearing some cap room). Once it was clear that Kampman wasn't going to be the same player in the new defense after four preseason games and a couple of regular season games, would anyone have really been upset about trading him out of the NFC for a second-round pick?
And why would you not place a tender on him and at least attempt to trade him? You have to admit that he would certainly garner a mid-round pick, at least, and then he would happily restructure his deal with his new team. Could be the exact same contract with the exact same team, but the Packers may have an extra third rounder to boot.
The draft picks become even more important this year: the Vikings are already a step up on the Packers, and as the Bears and Lions continue to utilize free agency to bolster their teams The Packers' approach to building from within and with the draft means every pick counts.
It's a sad day when a veteran player that defined "Packer People" leaves the team. He's a great player, a team leader, and a guy who simply got better by working harder. We're not going to forget his great career here and how we watched him grow from bench fodder to one of the most dominating defensive ends in the NFL.
But, you get the feeling that without the scheme change, Kampman would have been happy to finish his career here in Green Bay. The Packers did him a service by allowing him to go to a team that will allow him to finish his career in a way that maximizes his contributions. It's just too bad that they dropped the ball and only allowed their team to lose a great player with nothing in return.