Friday, March 10, 2006
Packers will keep emerging star Kampman
By Len Pasquarelli
Defensive end Aaron Kampman, a self-made player who transformed himself from a modestly regarded fifth-round draft choice to the Green Bay Packers' most consistent front four lineman, made himself a lot of money on Friday evening.
Just hours before he would have become an unrestricted free agent, and a player who would have received considerable attention on the open market, Kampman agreed on a long-term contract extension that will keep him with the Packers, ESPN.com learned through multiple NFL sources.
Details of the contract were not immediately available but the finances, sources said, were more than sufficient to have Kampman eschew free agency. Packers officials publicly acknowledged during the offseason that retaining Kampman was a priority, and the two sides have been bargaining for weeks in an attempt to craft a new deal.
Kampman was viewed by many teams as one of the premier front four players in free agency, an emerging, young star, and he was rated No. 7 by ESPN.com among potential unrestricted players at all positions.
The former Iowa star, chosen by the Packers in the 2002 draft, has demonstrated steady improvement every year of his career, a tribute to his work ethic and desire to achieve. Although he isn't particularly big, (6-feet-4, 285 pounds), Kampman is a terrific strongside anchor against the run and has improved markedly as a pass rusher over the last three years.
He enjoyed a career season in 2005, posting 105 tackles, and was one of the few defensive linemen in the NFL to crack the 100-tackle mark. Kampman also added a career-best 6½ sacks and three forced fumbles. He entered the season with just seven career sacks but his total had increased every season.
Although he started his career as just a spare lineman, and playing on special teams, Kampman moved into the Green Bay end rotation in 2003 and into the starting lineup in 2004. He is an excellent technician, uses his hands well to disengage from blockers, and possesses deceptive strength.
For his career, Kampman has 246 tackles, 13½ sacks, eight forced fumbles and two recoveries.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.