Lombardi: Packers' priorities all mixed up

PackerReport.com's John Lombardi provides his thoughts on a few issues that have surfaced with the Green Bay Packers, including Aaron Kampman, Ahman Green and Ahmad Carroll.

Three things happened recently that concern me. The first was the trouble that Ahmad Carroll got into down in Arkansas. The second is Ahman Green's continued legal trouble (He is going to trial next month to fight a misdemeanor charge for domestic violence). The last thing is the negotiations between the Packers and Aaron Kampman. Reportedly, there is quite a gap between the team and the defensive end when it comes to desired salary.

On the surface, there does not seem to be anything to connect these three things. The first two are about players behaving badly. (Let me also add that both guys are alleged to have done some bad things and have not been convicted of anything yet.) Contract issues are standard for this time of year.

What strikes me as strange is that I have not heard a peep out of the team concerning Carroll. Recently, Ted Thompson was very complimentary of Green and hopes that a contract can be worked out that will bring him back into the fold. I may have missed a team statement on Carroll, but I pay attention, so it must have been pretty soft. Both guys have had issues with the authorities over the years. It just seems a bit odd that two guys with a history of bad behavior are valued by the Packers. Kampman, who has done nothing but work his butt off, is potentially expendable.

I know that Kampman's price tag may be too much for the Packers to swallow, but it is almost unthinkable that they would let him walk. He was the best player on the defense last year. All evidence points to them drafting the kid out of NC State with their first pick. He looks to be a superstar in the making. If they let Kampman walk and draft Mario Williams, it would be a zero sum gain. Do they really gain anything in this transaction? Some scouts compare Williams to Reggie White, so maybe it would be an upgrade, but what if they can keep them both? How much of an upside will the kid have if he does not have a threat on the other side of the line? KGB has his moments, but wouldn't it be great to have the three of them? I know the team overpaid for Joe Johnson, Cletedius Hunt and KGB in past years, and they are probably gun shy, but it is unlikely that Kampman will slow down once he gets the big money.

The Packers give a lot of lip service to trying to get character guys. They claim that the quality of a man's character is part of the evaluation process. I read a quote the other day that sums this up. Thompson had the following to say when asked about Virginia Tech quarterback, who has declared for the draft. He intimated that the Packers would have to do their homework on Vick because of his history. "This doesn't have anything to do with Marcus Vick, but with me, with the Green Bay Packers, it's important that we get the right kind of person," Thompson said. "The longer I'm in this, the more I'm convinced that character is overriding."

Like a lot of things, actions speak louder than words. It is probably unfair to label Green and Carroll as bad characters, but one only needs to read the paper to realize that they both have had a few run-ins with the law. I also acknowledge that it is easier to deal with problems associated with existing players than it is to add problems, but how can they not re-sign a guy like Kampman? How can they not lock up a guy who has done everything right, a player who is a high character guy? Sure it will cost a lot of money, but that is the state of pro football today. I guess the Packers feel that Kampman will demand a contract that is higher than fair market value. I can support them in their desire to not overpay the guy, but if character is so important, then it is necessary that the team succeed in populating the team with those types of players.

Let me be clear on this. I am not advocating that the team has to be composed of altar boys. I am not clueless on this issue. I would probably bring Green back and see what he can do. I think that Carroll has worn out his welcome here in town. His troubles, lack of consistent play, constant penalties and hot dogging have caused me to sour on him. He has improved since he arrived in town, but he just grates on me. Kampman is everything a coach should be looking for. He plays with effort, with smarts, with passion and gets results. What more could a team want then a player like Kampman?


John Lombardi

Editor's note: John Lombardi is the grandson of legendary coach Vince Lombardi. His football experience includes stints with two teams in the World League (now NFL Europe); in the scouting departments of the Cleveland Browns and Tennessee Titans; and graduate assistant coach and director of football operations at Vanderbilt. E-mail him at johnlombardi22@yahoo.com.


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