Once the players sign off on the the new collective bargaining agreement, general manager Ted Thompson likely will be working the phones in hopes of getting something in a trade for Nick Barnett. Barnett, at age 30, with cap figures of $6.9 million in 2011 and $7.4 million in 2012, and coming off of season-ending injuries in 2008 and 2010, certainly won't be a hot commodity on the trade market.
That, however, doesn't mean there won't be some suitors, meaning the Packers might be able to get something rather than nothing.
In fact, a source told Packer Report that the Chiefs, Chargers, Titans, Giants and Buccaneers all have varying degrees of interest in Barnett. Along those lines, our Scout.com colleague, Nick Athan of Warpaint Illustrated, says Barnett is the No. 1 offseason target of Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli should Barnett wind up being released. Barnett would pair with inside linebacker Derrick Johnson and outside linebackers Tamba Hali and rookie Justin Houston to give the Chiefs a formidable foursome in their 3-4 scheme.
Since the Packers began keeping count of tackles in 1975, Barnett's 1,014 stops trail only John Anderson's 1,020. Barnett holds team records in single-season tackles (194 in 2005) and consecutive seasons leading the team in tackles (five).
The knock on Barnett has always been his lack of impact plays. In eight seasons, Barnett has nine interceptions (none in the last three seasons) and forced just two fumbles. While a case can be made that Barnett was at his best in a 4-3 scheme, he flourished as a frequent blitzer in Dom Capers' attacking 3-4 alignment. He had a career-high four sacks in 2009, and while he didn't have any sacks in his four games last season, he had four pressures and a quarterback hit.
The fiery Barnett is the best athlete among the inside linebackers, but the defense hardly suffered without him. During his four games, the Packers allowed 18.3 points per game against offenses that finished a cumulative 17th in the league in scoring. With Desmond Bishop replacing Barnett, the Packers allowed 13.9 points per game against offenses that also ranked a cumulative 17th in the league in scoring.
In Barnett's absence, A.J. Hawk and Bishop finished one-two in tackles and played so well together that both received lucrative long-term deals. The money alone makes Barnett's departure seem like a foregone conclusion, especially considering the Packers will need to cut salary to get far enough under the presumed $120 million salary cap to sign their draft picks and re-sign some of their free agents.
A source, however, pointed to "chemistry" as maybe a bigger reason why Barnett's days in green and gold are numbered. Barnett is an emotional player, which is great as one of the leaders on defense and an every-down player. That's not necessarily great as a reserve and special-teams player. Moreover, by starting a controversy regarding the injured players' possible exclusion from the Super Bowl photo, it showed that Barnett could be a distraction — which is exactly what a team-first organization wishes to avoid as it enters the crucible of trying to defend its Super Bowl championship.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport.