Free Agent For First-Team All-Pro: Packers Hit Jackpot With Linebacker De’Vondre Campbell | WFRV Local 5
GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – Amid a dramatic spring and summer between the Packers front office and the team’s quarterback, general manager Brian Gutekunst hit the jackpot on veteran linebacker De’Vondre Campbell.
When the 2021 NFL Free Agency Market opened at 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday, March 17, the Packers were almost two months away from their devastating home NFC Championship Game loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Campbell was in his fifth season in the NFL and one year under contract with the Arizona Cardinals. While 31 other NFL teams were bluffing on top of Campbell, Green Bay stepped in.
Nearly three months into free agency, the Packers took a chance on the man who took defense to a new dimension. Brian Gutekunst announced the signing of linebacker De’Vondre Campbell on June 9, just a day before OTA ended.
“I was just really excited about the opportunity to come to such a historic franchise and to be able to play on a solid defense. I feel like we have some really good players here on the front end and back end, and we have some good young linebackers. For me, my job is to try to learn defense as quickly as possible and adapt as much knowledge as possible to these younger guys so they can become the players they can be,” Campbell said on June 10 .
Being a packer meant a lot to Campbell from day one and he eluded it in his first press conference with green and gold. He wanted fans to know what he was capable of in his first season with the Packers.
“My job is to do whatever I’m asked to do. I feel like I have very few limitations in my game. Whatever the coaching staff wants from me, I’m just going to go out there and do it to the best of my ability,” Campbell said this summer.
Campbell teamed with Packers defensive coordinator Joe Barry in the early years at Titletown and only thrived in the system put in place. Since Gutekunst gave the 28-year-old a chance, he’s done nothing but impress and make big plays for Green Bay on game days. He’s certainly surpassed his current 1-year, $2 million contract, which he signed this summer to qualify for the green and gold.
In 16 games, Campbell is ranked second in solo tackles (88) and 7th in combined (146) among linebackers (per NFL) bound. His impressive performance that year earned him a first-team All-Pro nod, becoming the first Packers inside linebacker to receive that honor since Hall of Famer Ray Nitschke did so in 1966 (per Packers.com ).
Surprisingly, the First-Team All-Pro Award was Campbell’s first of his career. Never getting selected to the Pro Bowl or winning weekly NFL honors was an incredible achievement in Campbell’s 6-year NFL career and a pivotal one for the future.
The 2021-22 regular season Campbell had for the Packers will go down in history as historic and for just $2 million for a player of first-team All-Pro caliber – Brian Gutekunst has gold with that signing beaten. Just as he has done several times this season with various moves including signing cornerback Rasul Douglas and trading punter Corey Bojorquez during the season.
That’s just another reason Gutekunst should be heavily favored for this year’s NFL Executive of the Year award.