Last week we went through the list of free agents for the Green Bay Packers, and the comments seemed decidedly mixed on LB Aaron Kampman. It was about half in favor, and half opposed to resigning him. However his ability as a pass rusher can't be replaced in free agency, and they can't expect to find another LB Clay Matthews waiting for them at the end of the 1st round.
The Packers can guarantee his return by placing the franchise tag on him before February 25th. Unfortunately the franchise tag for a linebacker costs just under $10 million. Even if he returns to the field from his torn ACL, he might not return to his 2006-2008 form until 2011 (just in time for the lockout...). Also, bad knees and defensive lineman don't always mix. DE Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila never returned to form after his 2008 knee surgery.
But does Kampman have any interest in resigning with the Packers? Mike Lucas said on a radio show that Kampman was "furious" over how he was used last season. Both Aaron Nagler and Greg Bedard agreed that it's unlikely Kampman is furious at the Packers. But Greg Bedard reminded me of how uneasy Kampman was about the switch to a 3-4 defense.
Mocking Dan over at Mocking The Draft agrees that Kampman wants out and he'll be on a "hot target":
Playing in the 3-4 clearly didn't work for Kampman. He struggled in 2009 and wants out of Green Bay. As an unrestricted free agent, Kampman will be a hot target. Make no mistake, when he can put his hand down and get after the quarterback, he's very good. From 2006-2008, Kampman had 37 sacks. He could be another option for Philadelphia, as well as Oakland and Chicago.
So it's probably come down to the franchise tag. This is probably the toughest call for GM Ted Thompson this offseason. Can he resign his top pass rusher for a reasonable price? Or does he have to go get the tag? Or will he let him walk away and receive nothing in return?