I remember signing Aaron four years ago this week on the eve of free agency — the ultimate leverage point for a player with his incumbent team — to prevent him from entering a market clamoring for his services. With that contract from four years ago, modeled after a similar one given by the Titans to Kyle Vanden Bosch (another free agent now), Kampman hits the market as a cheaper and more consistent, although less talented, option for teams losing out on the derby to sign Julius Peppers.
Kampman never took to the new 3-4 defense of Packers coordinator Dom Capers, and his relationship with a team and a defense where he had been a leader on and off the field took a downward turn. Previously an eternally positive force in the locker room, Kampman’s position switch robbed him of enthusiasm as he took an indifferent approach to the position change that did not sit well with the Packer coaches. Simply, after eight years with the Packers, it’s time for Kampman to make a change.
The issue with Aaron, coming off an ACL, will be the physical he takes with a new team. My reports are that his knee looks good and his rehabilitation has been successful (but whoever says his rehab is not going well?).
This will obviously depend on the demand for his services, but Kampman and agent Neil Cornrich will be seeking a shorter term — three or four years — to give Kampman the potential for another bite at the free agency apple. Four years ago, Kampman signed a four-year deal worth $21 million with $11M guaranteed. He should receive at least those numbers, with some upside built in for him to return to his form from 2006-2008, where only DeMarcus Ware and Jared Allen registered more sacks than Kampman.
Depending on the leverage, there will be some risk management in the contract about the knee. Again, that depends on whether one of the teams involved will not require it or not.
I am biased here, but virtually any amount paid to Aaron will be worth it. As a strong believer that character counts, Aaron has great value beyond the field. He will instantly upgrade the character of the defensive line unit — a group that can be a bit squirrelly — and become a team leader in the process.
Aaron has had the label of a try-hard, grinder since he came out of Iowa as a fifth-round pick. Although unable to shed that label, he is a truly talented defensive lineman and has proven that. He will provide strong value to whichever one of many suitors lands him.
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