With news coming from Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Brandon Chillar may have suffered a potentially serious injury in the offseason, the Packers are suddenly in a precarious position at inside linebacker.
“A source familiar with the team said that linebacker Brandon Chillar suffered a serious hamstring injury that could put his season in jeopardy,” writes Silverstein. “Another source said he knew there was an injury issue, but he didn’t know the extent of it.”
Reports out of Green Bay yesterday were that the Packers informed Nick Barnett he would either be traded or released.
While the Packers would appear to be okay with a starting duo of A.J. Hawk and Desmond Bishop, they would seem thin without either Barnett or Chillar to back them up.
Hypothetically that might leave 5-11 sixth-round draft choice D.J. Smith as a starter should an injury to occur to either Hawk or Bishop, but it’s worth noting that both Hawk and Bishop have been extremely durable throughout their careers.
A somewhat surprising development reported by the Green Bay Press-Gazette was that the agent of Matt Wilhelm––a mid-season pickup last year––was in talks with the team about coming back to the Packers.
Most observers probably didn’t think Wilhelm would be back with the Packers this year. Whether Chillar’s injury has prompted the Packers to consider signing Wilhelm once again is up for debate. Even so, Wilhelm would probably only be a stopgap option for the Packers. Anything outside of a backup and special teams role may be asking too much for the nine-year veteran.
The only other inside linebacker currently on the roster is Cardia Jackson, who was on the practice squad last season.
Whether news of Chillar’s injury is enough to prompt the Packers to reconsider their intentions to either trade or release Barnett is unknown. The team most likely wants to examine Chillar and determine the extent of his injury. According to Silverstein, he hasn’t reported to training camp yet.
Once the Packers have a better handle on Chillar’s injury, they’ll be better equipped to proceed in whatever direction they so choose.
At this point, it can’t be ruled out that the Packers may look to add some depth at the position in free agency, though history would indicate that’s a long shot.