Aaron Kampman, normally a go-to guy for the media and teammates at the Packers, has gone silent in his pivotal career crossroads as the team moves to a 3-4 defense, requiring a position change.
This is unlike Aaron and reason to sense that things are not all radiant between the Packers and one of their most indispensable players. Aaron is as solid a person as there is in the league. He’s a leader on and off the field and a presence in the locker room that many look up to (including the other Aaron, Rodgers).
When we re-signed Kampman three years ago, many felt we had overpaid by falling in line with a then-market contract given to Kyle Vanden Bosch of the Titans. It turned out to be a bargain as Kampman has been one of the top defensive ends in the league, with 37 sacks in the three years since his signing, playing both the run and the pass with great efficiency and, as stated above, being a true leader on the team.
As anyone in football knows, defensive linemen can be a squirrelly group. We all know the diva issues with wide receivers – the NBA players of the NFL – but there are some equally challenging issues with defensive linemen, usually involving motivation and weight. When Aaron got to Green Bay, we had a few issues with players in that position group. Once he arrived, however, even as a fifth-round rookie, the character level of that group shot up and has been at a high level since.
When it became time for Aaron to potentially become a free agent, the mood at Lambeau was tense. In nine years of negotiating player contracts for the Packers, there were few players who caused more concern for the staff, coaches, management and fans about re-signing. I heard from fans (I was pumping gas one night and someone shouted, “Sign Kampman!” at me) and people at all levels of the organization imploring me to do whatever we could to not lose Aaron to another team (we had already matched one offer sheet for Aaron in his Restricted Free Agent year, that from the Minnesota Vikings).