Greg Jennings may be the most famous Packer to hit the free agent market this year, but our next profile deals with the most infamous Packer to hit the free agent waters: Erik Walden. It would be an understatement to say that Walden will not be missed should he part ways with the Packers. In fact it might even be safe to say that the Packers can easily upgrade. Unfortunately, there is a decent chance the Packers bring him back one more time since he would come at a bottom basement price.
Walden started the season with a one game suspension due to an off the field incident from the previous year. He also lost his starting spot to rookie Nick Perry. This quickly took the form of splitting time with Perry in the lineup, Perry taking more passing situations and Walden taking more pure running situations. The time sharing worked out well for both Perry and Walden, making way for each of them to put together their strongest performances of the season.
Things quickly changed when Perry was lost for a season with a wrist injury. Suddenly Walden was expected to be an every down OLB and his play suffered as a result. Things grew worse when Clay Matthews went down for a stretch of games, putting more pressure on Walden to be a complete player. He never became this in the end. All this led up to his truly abysmal playoff performance in San Francisco. In many ways that terrible night was a team effort, but Walden’s poor decision making limitations as a LB were on full display.
Walden finished the year as the worst rated OLB by PFF, an honor he has had for two years in a row now. He is also listed as their worst edge defender available in free agency.
There does not seem to a great deal of need for starting talent here. I know Nick Perry has his detractors, but he was a great compliment to Matthews last year (nine of Matthew’s 13.5 sacks came when Perry was playing with him), and has shown every ability to grow into the role. The problem here is that there is not much behind Perry and Matthews. The only guys on the roster to provide depth are Dezman Moses (who is raw and slightly undersized) and Micah Johnson.
Likelihood Of Re-Signing
I hope with all my being that it’s poor. I’ll say this again, Walden is the worst OLB available in free agency right now according to PFF. The Packers could sign literally anyone else and have it be an upgrade. The problem is that Ted Thompson likes to keep his own guys and Walden is bound to be extra cheap (he is the worst OLB free agent available after all); so it’s not unreasonable to expect him back trying out for the team again in 2013. Sigh….I think I died a little typing that sentence.
Estimated odds of re-signing: 30%