Jim Leonhard is staying in Wisconsin.
Well, technically, he would have done that even if he had taken the Green Bay Packers’ defensive coordinator job. However, according to Tom Oates of the Wisconsin State Journal, Leonhard has decided to remain in Madison as the Wisconsin Badgers’ defensive coordinator instead.
After careful consideration, University of #Wisconsin defensive coordinator Jim Leonard informed #Pqckers coach Matt LaFleur Friday night that he will not accept the same position in Green Bay, according to Leonhard and his agent, Tim Valentyn of Madison. (More to come)— Tom Oates (@TomOatesWSJ) February 6, 2021
Oates reports that Leonhard was indeed offered the Packers’ job on Friday, but elected to turn it down.
The Packers’ job would seem to be the ideal situation to have lured Leonhard back to the NFL after spending the last five years coaching the Badgers, one as defensive backs coach and the last four as DC. With an in-state move, a likely significant raise, and a very prominent platform providing an exciting opportunity, it seemed to be the ideal chance for the native of Tony, Wisconsin. Adding in the opportunity to work opposite Matt LaFleur and Aaron Rodgers and working with a talented defense, the Packers’ job should be a very desirable one.
However, Leonhard is reportedly seen as the Badgers’ heir apparent to head coach Paul Chryst, which may have played heavily into his decision to remain in Madison. Leonhard also has three sons, and uprooting them in the middle of a school year — and a pandemic — was surely a consideration as well.
With Leonhard out of the picture, the Packers will need to refocus their efforts around another leading candidate. Ejiro Evero, the Los Angeles Rams’ safeties coach, appears to be one of the other top options.
UPDATE: Leonhard released comments via Oats on Saturday morning following the report of him turning down the Packers’ job:
#Badgers DC Jim Leonhard on turning down #Packers’ job offer: “It was me choosing UW. I want to stay at UW. I want to be at this level right now. Extremely flattered. Awesome opportunity. But it was not the right time for me to go back to the NFL.”— Tom Oates (@TomOatesWSJ) February 6, 2021