Packers Linked to Super Bowl Champion LB to Fit New Defense

When it comes to holes to fill in the coming offseason for the Green Bay Packers, the conversation generally starts in the defensive backfield. Then, the team could also use some help on the offensive line and, while we’re at it, on the defensive line, too. Often overlooked, though: The needs for more linebacker depth.

New Kansas City Chiefs LB Drue Tranquill Has Impressed During OTAs

That need starts with a potential move on linebacker DeVondre Campbell, who is a candidate to be released this offseason with the chance to save nearly $3 million off the cap. Campbell is in the third year of a five-year, $50 million contract that has an out clause here in 2024.

The Packers struck gold with Campbell when they signed him in 2021, and he earned an All-Pro spot and the big contract that followed. But he has missed 10 games in the past two years, and his performance has sagged now that he is into his 30s.

But, instead of replacing Campbell all together, perhaps the best move would be to get a better third-linebacker option to go with Campbell and mercurial fellow starter Quay Walker. With that in mind, the folks at Pro Football Focus have the Packers among the top two landing spots for free-agent linebacker Drue Tranquill of the reigning champion Chiefs.

De’Vondre Campbell Future a Question

The need for a player like Tranquill would, of course, grow if the Packers moved on from Campbell. Take him away and the interior of the defense looks very green. Walker was a first-rounder in 2022 and is 23, while Isaiah MacDuffie (who played for new defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley at Boston College) is 24. Both have shown some promise, but are still very much developing.

Even with the Packers’ need to fill holes on the defensive side, but a playmaking linebacker would be ideal for a defense that ranked 16th in sacks (2.6 per game) and struggled to stop the run (61.3 rush defense grade at Pro Football Focus, 21st in the NFL).

Wrote PFF of Tranquill: “Tranquill, from Indiana and having played at Notre Dame, could be a great third linebacker in Green Bay alongside De’Vondre Campbell and Quay Walker. New Packers defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley plans to bring an attacking 4-3 base defense, which could make Tranquill a great fit after he excelled on Steve Spagnuolo’s Chiefs unit, extremely efficient as a blitzer and ever-reliable in coverage.”

Packers Defense to Undergo Big Shift

The change to the 4-3 defense, of course, means the Packers are pretty badly in need of more linebacking help. Tranquill was a steal for the Chiefs last year when he landed a one-year, $3 million contract and greatly outplayed that number. He is not great against the run, which could be a factor that helps decide whether the Packers pursue him.

But the defensive change also means, as PFF references, that maybe the presumed cutting of De’Vondre Campbell was overblown, and that the Packers will run things back with him in the middle.

GM Brian Gutekunst said last week that he is hopeful the team can keep Campbell around.

“I’d love to have De’Vondre back,” Gutekunst told reporters, per “We’re going through all that, the contract stuff, right now. We’ll kind of see how it all shakes out. Obviously, we just got the cap number. We’re working through some of that stuff, but he’s been an ultimate pro for us, really good player. We’ll kind of see where that goes.”

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