Aaron Kampman

Kampman may be better than we're giving him credit for.

On the eve of free agency the Green Bay Packers face one of their toughest decisions on the future of defensive end/outside linebacker Aaron Kampman.

The Packers have publicly stated that they want to resign Kampman, but they will have competition for his services.

A week ago, it would have been fine with us if Kampman signed elsewhere. We noted that both his sacks and tackles have decreased each of the past four seasons. We noted that Kampman seems like a fish out of water playing outside linebacker, especially when dropping back into coverage.

Those things are still true, but they aren’t the whole story.

A lot of teams look at more than just sacks and tackles when it comes to players like Kampman and we’d be remiss if we didn’t do the same. Particularly telling in this case are quarterback hits and quarterback hurries.

In 2006, Kampman had 18 quarterback hits and 24 hurries. In 2007, Kampman was second in the league in hits with 20 and first in hurries with 21 (link). In 2008, Kampman had 20 hits and 11 hurries. In 2009, Kampman was tied for fourth in hits with 14, despite only playing nine games (link).

Although hits and hurries are hard to chart and one source often has a different number than another, one thing is certain. Even though Kampman may not be piling up the sack numbers like he once did, he’s still getting to the quarterback.

The fact that he was among the league leaders in quarterback hits in 2009 in only nine games says a lot.

Putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks changes games and Kampman has demonstrated he’s still capable of doing that, and although I’m a big proponent of statistics, the obvious statistics clearly don’t tell the full story in Kampman’s case. That’s not to say Kampman is the same player he was in 2006, when he registered 15.5 sacks, but he obviously still has value.

So the question is, will Kampman stay in Green Bay?

We’ve heard that he wants to stay in Green Bay and the Packers want him back, but the situation will likely be resolved by the market itself.

It’s not out of the question that Kampman would consider signing with a team that runs the 4-3. At the same time, the Packers haven’t closed the door on him playing with his hand down in Green Bay.

In other words, Kampman has a tough decision ahead of him. If the Packers make a competitive offer, they have a good chance of retaining Kampman. However, Kampman could decide playing in a 4-3 with his hand down full time is just a more attractive option.

This one will be interesting to watch.

The free agent signing period opens tonight at 11 p.m. CT.

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