Perhaps more than any other position over the past three years, injuries have decimated inside linebacker. A wrist injury wiped out Nick Barnett's 2010 season. A.J. Hawk missed time the following year, and Desmond Bishop would lose the entire 2012 season to a torn hamstring.
Unfortunately for Green Bay, that wasn't quite the end of their injury woes. Brad Jones fought through a series of complications this past season as he failed to showcase the coverage skill that earned him a multi-year deal the previous offseason.
The Packers believe the right inside linebackers are already on the roster. While that's debatable, it certainly can't be proven until those players manage to stay healthy for a full season. Jamari Lattimore, one of the team's breakout performers of 2013, is such an example. He strung together a few strong performances while filling in for Jones.
Lattimore's play drew comparisons to the departed Desmond Bishop, but he also made many of the same mental errors that Bishop was known for during his time in Green Bay. Another offseason could help those issues, but that assumes he returns. Another team hasn't signed a restricted free agent like Lattimore away from his original team since the new CBA was enacted, suggesting that he's likely to be in Green Bay for another season. Here are the critical details on Lattimore and the Packers' other free agent inside linebacker.
Jamari Lattimore (RFA)
15 games played, 4 starts
35 tackles (24 solo), 2.0 sacks, one forced fumble
Final year of three-year, $1.4 million rookie contract
2013 compensation: $555,000 base salary
38 games played, 4 starts
46 tackles (34 solo), 2.0 sacks, one forced fumble
Signed as an undrafted free agent in 2011
Four games played
Two tackles (one solo), two forced fumbles
$725,000 one-year contract
39 games played, three starts
36 tackles (31 solo), two interceptions, two forced fumbles
Signed as an undrafted free agent in 2010