The Packers have announced that they have re-signed outside linebacker Erik Walden; details of the contract were not made available (which is a statement in itself), but considering the lack of interest Walden received during free agency and the fact that the signing is a mere 3 days before the NFL draft indicates that Walden was desperate to sign and probably took a 1 year minimum contract.
Walden was viewed as a potential starter after an impressive 2010 campaign, but literally saw the 2011 season fall apart as he started 15 games but ended up as a liability on defense, was replaced by Brad Jones during the playoffs and was the center of an ugly domestic violence dispute with his girlfriend that resulted in him having to spend Thanksgiving in jail.
My impression of the signing is more to take advantage of the larger roster size than anything to do with depth or playing time. I’m sure if the Packers viewed Walden as either the starter or as a key backup, they wouldn’t have let him sit in free agency this long. Right before the draft, basically all leverage is with the teams as 1) all the coveted players are probably already with new teams and 2) teams are hesitant to sign players as they waiting to see what players they can draft. Walden and his agent probably figured that biting the bullet and signing a cheap contract with the Packers offered the best chance to compete for a spot. As such, Walden’s contract does not likely include any signing bonus so his spot on the roster is anything but secure.
All in all, a pretty smart move by Thompson; if Walden returns to 2010 form and plays lights out, then the signing is a great value but if Walden doesn’t improve he ends up as a camp body and gets cut before the end of training camp.——————
Thomas Hobbes is a staff writer for Jersey Al’s AllGreenBayPackers.com.