The first weekend of the NFL free agency period is almost over and the big news around Packerland is that 8 year veteran Aaron Kampman is set to leave Green Bay to join the Jacksonville Jaguars. Kampman reportedly agreed to a four year deal with the Jags that should return him to his customary defensive end position after playing last season as a linebacker in the Packers’ 3-4 alignment.

The general consensus was that Kampman was never a good fit for the 3-4 and he was obviously not comfortable dropping into pass coverage. But he still provided the Pack with some pass rush ability opposite Clay Matthews and appeared to be coming around a little at the time he suffered his knee injury. The Packers will now have to find another pass rusher to keep opposing teams from double teaming Matthews.

By all accounts, Kampman was a stand-up guy and his presence in Green Bay will be missed both on and off the field. Here’s wishing him good luck in the future.
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A more significant development for the Packers on the field is the signing of starting left tackle Chad Clifton to a 3 year/$20 million contract. Clifton’s agent leveraged some questionable interest from the Washington Redskins to get General Manager Ted Thompson to increase his initial offer and keep Clifton in the fold. Thompson’s failure to stabilize the offensive line essentially forced his hand on this one. The idea of going into next season without a proven anchor at left tackle would almost certainly have forced the Packers to select an offensive tackle early in the upcoming NFL draft. Given Clifton’s injury history, that’s something they should consider anyway.
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In other NFL news, NFC North rival Chicago made the biggest splash in the free agency period by inking former Carolina defensive end Julius Peppers to a 6 yr./$91.5 million contract, almost half of which is guaranteed. The Bears also lured running back Chester Taylor away from the Vikings. According to the Associated Press, the signings indicate that Bears GM Jerry Angelo and coach Lovie Smith are intent on returning to the playoffs. More accurately, it probably shows that Angelo and Smith are intent on saving their jobs.

Have to give the Bears credit, though, as they traditionally aren’t a franchise that will throw big money around. Of course, like Thompson, Angelo had to do something as he traded away most of his draft picks last season for quarterback Jay Cutler, which didn’t turn out exactly as planned. Bears fans may want to temper their enthusiasm this year too as big free agent signings often end up being busts (see Haynesworth, Albert). I also have a feeling that Taylor may not be as effective in Chicago as he was in Minnesota, which is good for the Packers as it diminishes both teams.

The Detroit Lions even got into the free agency act by signing defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch away from the Tennessee Titans. Along with having to face Minnesota’s Jared Allen, don’t think that didn’t enter into TT’s thinking about retaining Clifton.
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This is why I don’t gamble.

The Milwaukee Bucks won their 33rd game of the season last night against the LeBron James-less Cleveland Cavaliers. That is significant only because I predicted before the season that the Bucks would be hard pressed to win 30 games this year.

In my defense, at the time I didn’t know that rookie point guard Brandon Jennings would become the sparkplug for the team, that the Bucks would acquire shooting guards John Salmons and Jerry Stackhouse, that center Andrew Bogut would stay healthy and that guard Michael Redd wouldn’t. It’s amazing what a team can accomplish when they move the ball around and play some defense.

As it stands right now, the Bucks occupy the 6th playoff position in the NBA’s Eastern Conference. It would probably be a good idea for them to try to stay there as they seem to match up better with Atlanta than they do with the other of the top four seeds.

BTW-I wonder how people at the Bradley Center felt last night when they found out that King James would be riding the pine?
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The Milwaukee Brewers reportedly initiated contract talks this past week with Scott Boras, the agent for first baseman Prince Fielder. Unfortunately, Boras has a history of shopping his players to the highest bidder, even when that bidder sometimes doesn’t exist. Despite the best intentions of team owner Mark Attanasio and GM Doug Melvin (both of whom said they’re serious about keeping Fielder), it’s pretty clear that Fielder will remain in Milwaukee only if that’s where he wants to be. The Brewers don’t have the resources to get into a bidding war for his services, but if they want to remain a playoff contender, it might be necessary to do whatever it takes to keep him in Milwaukee.

Finally, a big ‘welcome back’ to Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Chris Capuano, who pitched two scoreless innings and got the win in yesterday’s exhibition game against San Francisco. Capuano still faces a long road back after his second “Tommy John” surgery but anything the Brewers can get out of him and fomer first round pick Mark Rogers has to be considered a bonus.

Thanks for reading; enjoy the rest of your weekend.

 

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  • Jon

    I heard from two different media individuals this past week that Kampmann was not the most popular guy in the Packer locker room and that many players don’t mind seeing him go. I was also under the impression that he was a top-notch character guy…maybe the position change soured him and affected his demeanor?

  • http://mike BigSnakeMan

    I guess we should no longer be surprised by anything we hear about pro athletes.

    Also, I neglected to commemorate the UW-GB women’s basketball team for clinching their 12th consecutive Horizon League regular season title. While that may say as much about the league they play in as it does about the Phoenix’ program, that’s still quite an accomplishment.