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.


Satori said...

Thanks as always CD for your terrific contributions to Packer Nation

I would think/hope that the Packers did pursue opportunities to trade Kampman before the deadline, but that's a risky move if the news gets out - and obviously nothing useful came of it if indeed they tried.

GB may have netted a 3rd based on your comments and I think that's a fair guess for purposes of discussion. Let's also assume Kampy's departure nets a 5th round compensatory pick next year for the Packers...

Then the difference between letting Aaron Kampman choose his own preferred destination and salary without restrictions vs GB tagging and trading is really quite small.

Given all the travails this organization endured while dancing with the F-word, perhaps both parties, Kampman and the front office sought a higher ground this time around.

I don't really lament the loss of an unspecified mid-round pick; instead I celebrate the fact that both parties walk away with their dignity and a chance to flourish in 2010 with out all of the anguish and animosity.

I give thanks to all of them for finding an amicable path forward - and for shining a better light on the Packer Nation.

Draft picks are like gold, but the one that got away was probably worth it.

PackerNation said...

I also thought Kampman should have been dealt when Capers came to town but that may have been more difficult that we assume; not only would the acquiring team have had to honor a good-sized contract but they would have risked losing him to free agency in a year. That would have made some teams very skeptical about giving a lot in trade, figuring they could just wait a year and make a run at him in free agency during an uncapped year.

Most likely the Packers will receive a 5th round comp pick (assuming they don't sign a comparable FA) next year.

Liked Kampman a lot. Real good Packer. But I think this move is better for him, better for the team. Looking forward to cheering for him when he returns as a Packer alumni because he was a real class act from start to finish.

Use of the term "PackerNation" without the expressed, written consent of PackerNation is prohibited.

IPB said...

CURIOUS COMMENT: "Use of the term "PackerNation" without the expressed, written consent of PackerNation is prohibited."
I used to know a guy who used the 'PackerNation' moniker - he hailed from San Antonio, TX last I heard -- and the one thing I know, is all Packerfans are a part of PACKERNATION ... much like I don't prefer anyone member of IPB call themselves "IndyPackerBacker" when it's the whole Club.. but, you go on...

Thanks for thw write-up, CD. The overall issue (for me) on these weird dealings with players that somehow seems to be the norm in Green Bay since the arrival of MM, Jags, interacting with the GM ... is I believe they want to run a good ship. We have Coaches who are 'average to possibly a B+, maybe - and from the GM, BoD side, they want to allow them a chance to do their jobs and hopefully get even better at their craft, like everyone else. My take is TT is making his final decisions with any and all players based on what the Assistant Coaches recommendations are. This is not solely a Trader Ted issue, even though all the Ted-Haters will certainly try to sell it as such. Even in public, Thompson is allowing his internal events become transparent, when more often than not, just about every other team only sheds the light on something for SHOW.... they have a semblence of allowance for making it look like the Assistant Staff is being allowed a say in what goes on. Whether that's an EGO issue, or not, is something I'll let the psycho-analysts deal with. But, personally, Dom Capers took the advice of his Assistant Coach - in this case I believe it's Kevin Greene - and they handled Kampman accordingly. It could also be a case of just how much respect they all had for Aaron as a person, a human being, and they just allowed him the freedom you don't normally see when it comes to the "Business of the NFL". But overall, this was a Coaching decision advisement to the GM, who then let it go down as recommended.

Now, I could most certainly be wrong... but it has all the trappings.

Dick Chang said...

Ugh. The compensation for Favre was posturing and shows--damn near proves--that the Packers front office was just as much full of shit as Bus & Brett were that summer. Hopefully they learn their lesson from Kampman and apply it to Jennings.