(Updated at 11:05 a.m. ET Sunday, March 7)
Even though they were saying they really wanted him to stick around, it turns out the Packers didn't want to keep unrestricted free agent Aaron Kampman in Green Bay badly enough. Kampman, who aside from Julius Peppers was considered by most observers to be the best pass rusher available on the free-agent market, signed with the Jaguars with midnight approaching on the second full day of this year's free-agent period.
"We've been having conversations with all of our free agents," Packers GM Ted Thompson said at this year's NFL Scouting Combine. "Historically speaking, and it certainly applies this year, our policy has always been to try to retain as many of our own players as we could."
A fixture at left end for most of his eight seasons as a Packer, Kampman switched to left outside linebacker in Dom Capers' new 3-4 scheme this past season. Team insiders say Kampman seemed to be getting really comfortable at his new position this past season when he suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 11 that required reconstructive knee surgery. Initially, it appeared speed limitations could prove to be a bit of a problem for Kampman, especially when it came to dropping back into coverage.
"I think Aaron was doing very good," said Thompson. "It's a shame he got hurt, but he was doing fine. He's physical, he's got the ability to 'get thick' on people. Somebody told me that term the other day, and I wanted to use it, so there it is. He can play the game. He sacks the quarterback, and that's unbelievably valuable in our league."
But Kampman has moved move on, and the Packers' starter at left outside linebacker entering the offseason would figure to be Brad Jones, a seventh-round pick last year who held his own for the most part in place of the injured Kampman but is still considered a work in progress. Word is the Packers hope that Jones, who has been working out in Arizona, can add about 10 pounds of muscle this offseason after playing at just under 240 pounds as a rookie.
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