As the Packers head into yet another too early offseason, there are many important decisions to be made about personnel. Linebacker De’Vondre Campbell is among a long list of Green Bay names that are not currently under contract for the 2022 season. For Russ Ball, Mark Murphy, and Brian Gutekunst, re-signing De’Vondre Campbell should be a priority.
When Green Bay picked him up on June 9th last year for a year and $2 million, they never could haveexpected the season that he had. They knew they were getting a veteran presence that had a lot of experience, but his production in 2021 was outstanding.
Campbell led the team in tackles, posted a PFF grade of 85.8, and was named to the AP All-Pro First Team NFL. Here is what the Packers got for 1 year, $2 million: 146 tackles, 6 TFL’s, 2 FF’s, and 2 INT’s. De’Vondre was great all year in run defense and pass coverage. This was an absolute incredible pickup by GM Brian Gutekunst.
When the new league year begins March 16th, so does NFL Free Agency. Campbell will enter the 2022 offseason as an unrestricted free agent. With how he played for Green Bay in 2021, there is a high chance that he priced himself out of the Packers and will go seek a multi-year, high end contract. Inside LB’s normally do not see major contracts in the NFL, but the league has taken notice and Campbell has solidified himself as one of the best in the game. He will be highly sought after.
The Packers need to make re-signing Campbell a priority. Green Bay does not usually value the inside LB spot as they have shown time and time again in the draft and free agency, but they found a gem in Campbell. A few more years with 59 in the middle of the defense will make all Packers fans feel good about that position.
It seems as if the Packers never have a great inside linebacker. The Blake Martinez years were rough, despite him being a solid run-game defender. We have to think all the way back to AJ Hawk since Green Bay last had a high-level off-ball linebacker. Krys Barnes, at the other ILB spot, showed massive improvement and looks to be a good complement to Campbell. Another year of these two controlling the middle of the field, stuffing runs, and reading pass plays would be big for the development of this defense.
Essentially, the secondary is set for next year. I know there are decisions to be made about guys like Adrian Amos, Rasul Douglas, and Kevin King. However, they know for sure they have a healthy Jaire Alexander, a rising star in Eric Stokes, and Darnell Savage as one of the safeties. If you solidify the middle of that defense and have an elite linebacker playing, that makes it easier on the rest of the defense. It also makes sense because the depth of the defensive line is sort of in question, and great linebacker play helps that.
The 28-year-old might see this as his last chance to test the free agency market and make substantial money on a multi-year contract. If he does, good for him, and his one season will never be forgotten in Green Bay. But, as for now, I see it as essential to make 59 a priority for next season and beyond.