GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – In the midst of a drama filled 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 on Wednesday, March 17 at 4:00 p.m., the Packers were almost two months removed from the devastating NFC Championship Game loss at home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Campbell was coming off his fifth season in the NFL and a contract year with the Arizona Cardinals. While 31 other NFL teams bluffed on Campbell’s upside to their roster, that’s when Green Bay stepped in.
Almost three months after the start of free agency, the Packers took a chance on the man that turned the defense into a new dimension. Brian Gutekunst announced the signing of linebacker De’Vondre Campbell on June 9th, just one day before OTA’s ended.
“I was just really excited for the opportunity to come to such a historic franchise and be able to play on a solid defense. I feel like we have some really good players here on the front and back end and we have some good, young linebackers so for me, my job is to try and come in and learn the defense as quickly as I can and try to pass along as much knowledge as I can to these younger guys so they can become the players they’re capable of being”, said Campbell on June 10.
Being a Packer meant a lot to Campbell from day one and he eluded to it in his first press conference with the green and gold. He wanted the fans to know what he was capable of doing in his first season with the Packers.
“My job is to do whatever I’m asked to do. I feel like I have very little limitations in my game so, whatever it is that the coaching staff wants me to do – I’m just going to go out there and do it to the best of my ability”, Campbell said this summer.
Pairing up with Packers Defensive Coordinator Joe Barry for their first years in Titletown, Campbell has done nothing but flourish in the system put in place. Ever since Gutekunst took a chance on the 28-year-old, he’s impressed each week and has continued to make huge plays on game days for Green Bay. He’s certainly outplayed his current 1-year, $2 million contract that he signed this summer to suit up for the green and gold.
In 16 games, due to resting in week 18 when Green Bay had the number one seed in the NFC locked up, Campbell is tied for second place in solo tackles (88) and 7th in combined (146) among linebackers (per NFL). His impressive showing this year earned him a First-Team All-Pro nod becoming the first Packers inside linebacker to earn that honor since Hall of Famer Ray Nitschke did so in 1966 (per Packers.com).
Surprising enough, the First-Team All-Pro award was Campbell’s first of his career. From never being selected to the NFL Pro Bowl or winning any weekly honors, this was an incredible feat in Campbell’s 6-year NFL career and a pivotal one moving forward
The 2021-22 regular season that Campbell had for the Packers will go down as historic and for just $2 million for a First-Team All-Pro caliber player – Brian Gutekunst struck gold with this signing. Just like he has multiple times this season with various moves that includes signing cornerback Rasul Douglas and trading for punter Corey Bojorquez in season.
Campbell’s accomplishments this season are just another reason why Gutekunst should be heavily favored for this year’s NFL Executive of the Year award.