With the NFL trade deadline around the corner (October 20), it seems to be increasingly apparent that the Green Bay Packers are willing to listen to offers for, or may even be shopping, outside linebacker Aaron Kampman.
Before you fly off the handle, this move would make sense for the Packers in a number of ways.
First, Kampman hasn’t adapted well to the Packers’ new 3-4 defensive scheme. Although he hasn’t played poorly, Kampman’s sack total is down dramatically from a year ago when he played defensive end in the 4-3 scheme. Similarly, his number of pressures has also decreased. Kampman has one sack this season, compared with four at this point last year.
Has Kampman fallen off as a player? That’s unlikely. The reality is Kampman is being asked to do a lot more than just rush the passer. He’s dropping into coverage much more than he’s used to. He’s also playing in a two-point stance after playing his entire career up to this point from a three or four-point stance.
Pretty simply, Kampman hasn’t shown that he’s suited for the 3-4 defense. He’s more effective as a 4-3 defensive end and although he’s been a good soldier by not making waves, I’m sure Kampman would prefer to get back to defensive end, even if that means playing elsewhere, which brings me to the second reason a trade would make sense.
This is the final year of Kampman’s contract, and if the year continues as it has, Kampman is likely to leave via free agency once the season is over. In that case, the Packers would receive a compensatory draft pick that could be as high as a third rounder.
However, Kampman has a lot of value. He ranks third in the league in sacks over the past three seasons. His 37 sacks trail only the Cowboys’ DeMarcus Ware (45.5) and the Vikings Jared Allen (37.5). For example, when the Vikings traded for Allen, they gave up a first-round pick and two third rounders. A similar package would be awfully enticing to the Packers.
If the Packers were to trade Kampman, it would likely have little impact on the current defense. Although he is the team’s only true pass rusher, Kampman hasn’t racked up the numbers in the 3-4 and isn’t likely to start doing so unless Capers uses him differently. Without Kampman, Clay Matthews would start at one outside linebacker spot and Brady Poppinga or Jeremy Thompson would start at the other. There isn’t much difference between those players and the current version of Kampman.
One interesting prospect that continues to surface is the name Julius Peppers. The Carolina defensive end signed a one-year franchise tender in the offseason and is all but gone once this year ends. The Packers are one of the few teams that have the salary cap room to afford Peppers this season, but any deal would be contingent on him signing a long-term contract.
There is a slight possibility the Packers could swap Kampman for Peppers. Carolina plays a 4-3, which would fit Kampman’s style and Peppers has made it abundantly clear that he doesn’t want to play in Carolina, so the move makes sense for both parties.
However, Packers GM Ted Thompson isn’t known for such splashy moves, and trading for Peppers is akin to signing a big ticket free agent, since the Packers would have to commit a large sum of money to him over the long term.
More realistic is the Packers moving Kampman for draft picks and/or a young player.