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Packers 2012 Free Agents: Erik Walden

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Green Bay Packers LB Erik Walden was one of the best stories of 2010. A street free agent who'd been unemployed after the Dolphins had released him a month earlier, he was signed by the Packers in October 2010. He received playing time almost immediately, and he was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week after a career game vs. the Bears.

In 2011, he was expected to compete against LB Frank Zombo for the starting outside linebacker. But Zombo missed nearly the entire season due to multiple injuries, and Walden started 15 games in his absence. I wasn't expecting a lot from him, but he didn't even meet that low bar. He wasn't a factor for most of the season, though he played very well after the bye week. That was until he was arrested in late November. He slumped badly in December and he finally lost his starting job to LB Brad Jones at the end of the season.

He shouldn't be expecting a big contract in free agency, but I wouldn't be opposed to seeing him return as a backup and special teams player. If his mid-February trial date goes badly then I don't think he'll be back under any circumstances. However, the Packers haven't been quick to cut ties with players who have run into legal troubles. Maybe this post is too early, and we should wait to decide until after his trial. Or maybe we've already seen enough of him.