Over two weeks, Acme Packing Company takes a look at each position group on the Green Bay Packers and provides grades and insight on how they performed in the 2020 season. We also examine the players from the 2020 roster who are set to be free agents in 2021. Today, we examine the inside linebackers.
The Packers acquired all new starters and primary depth at inside linebacker in 2020, bringing in veteran Christian Kirksey through free agency, rookie Krys Barnes as a talented but raw undrafted free agent, and spending a fifth on Kamal Martin out of Minnesota. Green Bay doesn’t use a ton of inside linebackers, and if you want to stick around as depth, you need to play well on special teams, because that is what you’ll be doing. Oren Burks and Ty Summers led the team in special teams snaps in 2020. Such is the life of a backup inside linebacker.
If James Burgess is going to stick in Green Bay, special teams is his path.
NFL Experience: 4 accrued seasons
Free Agency Category: Unrestricted
Expiring Contract: 1 year, $825,000
2020 Stats: 4 games played, 3 tackles
Burgess has bounced around a ton in his short career, though it is worth noting he put together a solid campaign with the Browns in 2017, and with the Jets in 2019. He is a willing and able special teamer capable of bringing down ball carriers in the open field or laying a block, but the fact that he hasn’t managed to stick on a few bad defenses tells you most of what you need to know.
He was an intriguing, if weird athletic profile, and you can see why teams continue to be interested.
But once you’re entering your age 28 season, you’re a known quantity. Burgess is a free agent, and available for any team seeking depth and cannon fodder at the ILB position.
Maybe it will even be Green Bay.