The Green Bay Packers aren’t giving up on outside linebacker Erik Walden just yet.
Despite an roller coaster 2011 season in which Walden faced both legal uncertainty and a lost starting job, Packers GM Ted Thompson announced Monday that the team had re-signed the 26-year-old for the 2012 season. Immediate contract details were not available.
One of Thompson’s free-agent pickups during the 2010 season, Walden burst onto the scene during the Packers’ run to Super Bowl XLV and later won himself the team’s starting job opposite Clay Matthews to begin the 2011 season.
In 15 starts during 2011, Walden recorded 86 tackles, three sacks and a fumble recovery for a touchdown. However, Walden was arrested after a domestic dispute in late November and then lost his starting position late in the season.
While the Packers defense as a whole struggled throughout 2011, Walden’s play was a sore spot for much of the year. According to Pro Football Focus, no 3-4 outside linebacker graded out worse last season, and Walden was also the NFL’s worst run defender at the position.
Given those struggles and how little interest he received on the open market, it remains likely that Green Bay got Walden at a cheap price. The deal is likely only for one year, too.
Walden’s re-signing shouldn’t alter the Packers’ plans leading into Thursday’s NFL draft, as outside linebacker remains high on the priority list for Thompson. You can’t imagine the Packers brought back Walden with the idea that he’ll be anything more than a backup next season.