The pass-rush starved Green Bay Packers have reportedly started dialogue with linebacker Kamerion Wimbley, who was released by the Oakland Raiders Friday.
This via Paul Imig of FOX Sports Wisconsin:
After the Oakland Raiders cut Kamerion Wimbley on Friday, a league source confirmed that the Packers were one of more than a half-dozen teams to reach out to the 28-year-old free agent.
However, the source said, Green Bay has not yet scheduled a visit with Wimbley. The Packers apparently want to see what the market will dictate in terms of contract demands.
To be clear, "reaching out" to a player is far different than having any real interest. As Imig points out, the Packers will wait out the market before taking the next step in a pursuit Wimbley. By the time other teams get a look at the top pass-rusher left in free agency, the Packers will likely have eliminated themselves as a potential landing spot for Wimbley. His price tag should push GM Ted Thompson away early on in the process.
The Raiders also couldn't afford Wimbley.
Former Packers personell man and current Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie was forced to cut the 28-year-old loose after the two sides failed to agree on a contract re-structuring. Due $17.5 million in guaranteed money over three years if kept on the roster past Friday—the fifth day on the league calendar—Wimbley simply had no incentive to alter the original five-year, $48 million deal he signed last August. The cap-strapped Raiders had little other choice than to release Wimbley.
While far from a prolific pass-rusher, Wimbley does have 42.5 sacks and eight forced fumbles in 94 career games. He had 16 sacks over this two seasons in Oakland after the Raiders traded a third-round pick for him in 2009.
Wimbley does have experience playing in the 3-4, as the Cleveland Browns took the Florida State product at No. 14 overall in the 2006 draft and immediately converted him to a 3-4 outside linebacker. Arguably his best season as a pro came during his rookie season, when Wimbley started 16 games and tallied 11 sacks. He has played the majority of his remaining career as a 4-3 defensive end, with varying success.
On 477 pass-rushing snaps last season, Wimbley registered seven sacks, 16 quarterback hits, 40 pressures and 33 "stops," a figure that Pro Football Focus calls "a solo tackle which constitutes an offensive failure." In comparison, Erik Walden—the Packers starter at outside linebacker for most of 2011—had just 3/14/22/19 on 426 pass-rushing snaps.
It's clear Wimbley would be an upgrade, but the market would have to be awfully dry for the Packers to get seriously involved. Keep a watchful eye on the situation, but don't hold your breath. Any reinforcements in the pass-rush are almost certain to come through April's NFL draft.