NFL teams have until Saturday, January 8th at 3pm CST to restructure or extend a contract using the 2021 salary cap. The Green Bay Packers have around $3.1 million in cap space to work with in order to get a deal done. There are two strong candidates for contract extensions on the Packers’ roster right now: De’Vondre Campbell and Rasul Douglas. Both players have been key additions to a defense that has exceeded expectations this season. With only $3.1 million worth of wiggle room though, it is unlikely that both can be extended if the Packers decide to make a move before the deadline.
Here’s a case for both players:
On June 9th, 2021, De’Vondre Campbell signed with the Packers on a one-year deal worth $2 million. After letting go of oft-injured middle linebacker Cristian Kirksey, the Packers needed a veteran presence to start at the position. Additionally, they wanted to help bring along second-year players Krys Barnes and Kamal Martin. By Campbell’s own admission, he had never been asked to be “the man” on defense due to the other schemes he had played in. In new defensive coordinator Joe Barry’s scheme,however, that is exactly what he has been, “the man.” Campbell’s play has been phenomenal. He has been a star at the middle linebacker position. This is something that the Packers haven’t really had since A.J. Hawk’s departure after the 2014 season.
Campbell’s stats are impressive. He is the first player in the league with 140+ tackles (145), multiple INTs (2), multiple sacks (2), and multiple forced fumbles (2) in a season since Colts superstar Darius Leonard managed the feat in 2018. Campbell is a tackling machine who isn’t a liability in coverage. He also creates turnovers. What has really set him apart from previous Packer linebackers, however, is that Campbell’s tackling isn’t just stat padding. His tackles lead to defensive stops more often than not. De’Vondre Campbell has delivered for this defense in a big way.
After both Kevin King and Jaire Alexander went down due to injuries, the Packers were in dire need of help at the cornerback position. On October 6th, 2021, that help came when the Packers signed Rasul Douglas off the Arizona Cardinals’ practice squad on a one-year, $990,000.00 contract. By October 28th, Douglas was already helping win games for the Packers. He closed the game against the Cardinals with a last second interception of Kyler Murray in the end zone on October 28th. Since then, Douglas has amassed four more interceptions. Two of these he took back to the end zone for touchdowns. Another one was another game clincher versus the Browns.
He is thriving in Joe Barry’s defense. Under the tutelage of DB coach Jerry Gray he is learning to “believe what he sees.” Rasul Douglas is making plays that are translating into wins for the Packers. He is adding stability to a position that has been far from stable for years on this team. That sort of effort should be rewarded.
Which player will ultimately end up getting their contract extended is anyone’s guess. It is also important to note that the Packers don’t have to sign either player to an extension before Saturday’s deadline in order to keep them on the team. The Packers are known for getting late season deals like this done though. Both Douglas and Campbell have certainly played well enough to force the Packers to have to make some tough decisions in the coming hours.