Linebacker signs with Packers

Chillar gets two-year deal, will compete with Poppinga for starting job

Linebacker Brandon Chillar signed a two-year contract with the Green Bay Packers today, according to reports. Chillar, the team's first veteran free agent signing this offseason, is expected to compete with Brady Poppinga for the starting position at strong-side linebacker.

Chillar will receive more than $3 million in the first year of the two-year deal, according to the Green Bay Press-Gazette. The contract is worth $5.4 million, and Chillar can make another $1 million in incentives, his agents told the Press-Gazette.

Poppinga has started at strong-side linebacker the past two seasons. Poppinga has been strong against the run, but has struggled in pass coverage. The Packers also have lacked depth at the strong-side linebacker position.

Chillar, 25, visited Green Bay on March 5. The Arizona Cardinals also showed interest in the 6-foot-3, 242-pounder who had 4 1/2 sacks over the past two seasons for the St. Louis Rams. Chillar has played in 63 games (41 starts) in four NFL seasons. The Arizona Republic reported the Cardinals were the front-runners to sign Chillar but couldn't complete a deal because of salary-cap issues related to the renegotiation of receiver Larry Fitzgerald's contract.

The Packers had five linebackers on their roster last season: Poppinga, Nick Barnett and A.J. Hawk, plus rookie Desmond Bishop and special-teams ace Tracy White, who re-signed with the team this week. Middle linebacker Abdul Hodge, a third-round draft pick in 2006, spent the season on injured reserve because of knee problems that required surgery.

Korth's quick take
The Packers made a great move by adding Chillar. He has experience and the ability to improve the strong-side position. Between Chillar and Poppinga, the Packers are suddenly much stronger at that position.

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