Former Wisconsin Badgers defensive back Jim Leonhard has made it publicly known that he wants to play for the Green Bay Packers. Obviously, this is great news, especially since Green Bay’s safeties graded out as the worst in the NFL last season.
The 31-year-old isn’t someone the organization would sign to become the starter, although I believe he certainly could fulfill the duties of the role. He would be a player that could provide competition in training camp and then be a veteran backup. If anything, it will force Morgan Burnett, M.D. Jennings or whoever else the Packers suit up at the position to play better because there is a veteran presence behind them on the depth chart.
Leonhard is from Ladysmith, Wis. and attended Tony Flambeau High School. He was a walk-on at Wisconsin where he dominated the safety position. Even though he recorded 21 interceptions, which was the most in school history, he didn’t receive a scholarship until his senior year. Being from Wisconsin, his family members are diehard Packers fans. If there isn’t any other reason for Packers fans to want Leonhard on the team in 2014, it should be for his dream to play for his favorite team to come true.
“I’d obviously love to come back to Green Bay and play for the hometown fans. That would make a lot of people happy, a lot of my family happy,” Leonard told ESPN Wisconsin. “They wouldn’t be quite as conflicted having to cheer for some teams that they maybe rather wouldn’t but you never know. Obviously there’s got to be mutual interest on both ends.”
The mutual interest could be the problem. Packers general manager Ted Thompson isn’t exactly keen on bringing in aging veterans. In fact, it is usually the aging veterans who are sent packing. With that being said, Thompson understands the need to improve the defense immediately. As of right now, the safety position is a big question mark. That’s exactly why it wouldn’t hurt to acquire Leonhard for less than $1 million. For the price, it’s a no-brainer.
Leonhard recorded 41 total tackles, four interceptions and five passes defended in 16 games last season.