Losing Erik Walden Is Addition by Subtraction for Green Bay Packers
- Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Free agency has started for the 2013-14 NFL calendar year. As experienced Green Bay Packers enthusiasts know, it’s a time when some of the fan favorites give their attention to other markets who are willing to pay them more. Greg Jennings is one player who will probably move on to richer, not necessarily greener, pastures.
Not everything is bad about free agency. It’s a good time to express thankfulness for having a general manager who rarely overpays for talent. An example of this came when the Indianapolis Colts agreed to a four-year, $16 million contract with outside linebacker Erik Walden.
$4 million per season for Walden? Apparently, Colts general manager Ryan Grigson isn’t a fan of Pro Football Focus. According to PFF, Walden finished the 2012-13 season with a -25.4 rating. Of their 51 free-agent edge defenders, only eight of them had ratings below -9.9. Only three of them were below -19.0. Kyle Vanden Bosch (-31.0) was the only player with a worse grade than Walden.
Walden is an athletic player who plays with a lack of discipline. Anyone who watched the NFC Divisional playoffs would see that he often doesn’t contain the outside edge. That makes him vulnerable against mobile quarterbacks and reverse plays. With the Colts, Walden will likely start on the opposite side of Robert Mathis.
Starting outside linebackers for the 2013-14 Packers are Clay Matthews and Nick Perry. General manager Ted Thompson must add depth behind them. Walden’s departure creates an opportunity to add respectable depth at a position that has too many oft-injured players.
As a Middle Tennessee State University alumnus, I wish Walden the best. Maybe he’ll fit in better with the Colts. He was serviceable during the 2010-11 season when the Packers won their fourth Super Bowl. With that said, it was time for both parties to move in a different direction.