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Jim Leonhard Says He's "Had Conversations" with the Packers

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Jim Leonhard Says He's "Had Conversations" with the Packers

During an interview with WQOW in Eau Claire on Friday, free agent safety Jim Leonhard said he's been in talks with the Green Bay Packers but has had no official contract offer and no deal would appear imminent at this point.

"It would mean a lot, but we've had a lot of conversations with teams, Green Bay being one of them," said Leonhard. "They're a great organization, I'd love to play for them but it hasn't worked out up to now. You never know what can happen in the future, but we'll see. They're a great organization and it's always fun to see the fans and have a lot of family that follows them closely."

Leonhard was at Flambeau High School in his native Tony, Wis. on Friday for his annual namesake Skills Camp.

Last season Leonhard played for the Buffalo Bills, but after the expiration of his contract, he's free to sign with any team. In 2013 Leonhard had a career-high four interceptions and tied a career high with six passes defensed. He also had 41 tackles.

Entering what would be his 10th NFL season in 2014, Leonhard is also an experienced punt returner, averaging 9.3 yards per attempt on over 100 career punt returns.

The Packers appear to have reinforced the safety position through the addition of first round draft choice Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and moving Micah Hyde from cornerback after perhaps learning a lesson a year ago when M.D. Jennings and Jerron McMillian struggled and they couldn't turn to a quality backup.

Leonhard likely wouldn't be expected to start in a place like Green Bay, but could provide veteran experience in a similar role to what Mike Prior played for the Packers during their Super Bowl years in the late nineties.

If he were to be signed by the Packers, Leonhard would be competing for a job with the likes of Sean Richardson and Chris Banjo for a backup roster spot behind Morgan Burnett, Clinton-Dix and Hyde.

One question is whether Leonhard still has the legs to offer something to special teams other than just punt returns as a member of coverage units.

The Packers currently have 89 out of 90 potential roster spots filled.

Because it's after June 1, Leonhard would no longer count against the NFL's compensatory draft pick formula.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (41) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

COW's picture

..."we've had a lot of conversations with teams, Green Bay being one of them..."

Translation: My agent called Green Bay (along with every other team in the NFL).

4thand1's picture

His agent should have called you. He undoubtedly would have became instantly depressed and retired immediately. you suck.

Stroh's picture

I don't think its a question of Leonhard having the legs for ST duty. Will Henderson played ST his entire career. More a matter of how effective he can be as a safety. Either way, it doesn't matter. The only chance GB signs him is if Hyde fails as a safety, which seems unlikely and there is an injury to one of the other Safeties that could start. Packers don't generally bring in aging vets. If they have any starting options they would bring in a young player to develop behind them. Only way Leonhard would get any consideration is if they needed a starting Safety. The Packers rarely bring in old vets to fill roster spots, they bring in young players to develop. I don't understand why this is soo difficult for some to grasp!

Look Leonhard has been a decent NFL player and had a good career. Truth is he is likely on his last legs as an NFL player, which is why he is still available.

Another former Badger that everyone would love to see in the green and gold. But its highly unlikely. Would come down to having no other starting options for the Packers to sign him.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

This is correct. If you are going to have a "bad" player at a roster spot, at least have it be because the guy is young and inexperienced, not because he is old and beat up.

Bad, is meant to be taken with a grain of salt.

BVanRoschke's picture

Yes Stroh, rarely do the Packers make a move for a veteran but the signing of Peppers tells me the Packers are going all in on this season. They have had enough of SF and Seattle beating them up especially on defense. I don't know about the rest of you but Jim Leonhard would be a great pickup for the Packers and would solidify the safety position. I would rather have him over Hyde, Dix and Burnett at this point simply because he knows what the hell he's doing out there.

Bringing him in would be similar to the Packers bringing in Eugene Robinson. It worked with Eugene and it can work with Leonhard. I always thought Jim Leonhard was one of the smartest football players to ever play the game. Always around the ball, great instincts and eyes in the back of his head, We need people that know what the hell they are doing back there instead of young safeties pointing fingers at someone else after effing up watching a receiver go in the end zone untouched.

I don't trust Burnett and I sure as hell don't trust Mr. Dix at this point. Hyde never played safety in the NFL. Can't trust any of them. Who can you trust? Jim Leonhard that's who.

Stroh's picture

Leonhard would be the #4 or more likely the #5 Safety. Burnett, Hyde, Clinton-Dix would all be ahead of him and Richardson probably would too.

Peppers signing was to get another legit pass rusher to pair w/ Matthews. It also gives the Packers more movable pieces that are interchangeble and can play multiple postions. They needed someone like that...

Its one thing to get an instant starter and somone the opponent has to game plan against, which Peppers is, but its another to get a bottom of the roster aging player that won't contribute much at the expense of a younger cheaper developmental player, which is what Leonhard is at this point.

IMO the Packers keep 4 Safeties... Burnett, Hyde, Clinton-Dix and Richardson. It would be a waste to keep more Safeties than that.

BVanRoschke's picture

Yes, he's old I get that but as we speak if you asked who the best safety is out of the group based on experience it's Leonhard. Just saying if the Packers wanted to improve the position for just this season (which they probably don't unless injury) than I would love them go sign Leonhard. I would sleep very well at night if I knew Leonhard was our starter. Dix and Burnett might be faster and more talented but Leonhard destroys those two with his smarts and football instincts. Simply put, Jim Leonhard is a damn good football player. TT loves those guy. If only he was 10 years younger. Just the fact they were talking to him says something about how TT views this upcoming season and the defense.

Stroh's picture

If he's a good starting Safety in the NFL yet, why isn't he going to be going to someones training camp? Sure he has experience, but he's only going to get worse, not better. Right now Burnett and Hyde are the starting Safeties. If you pick up Leonhard who are you willing to lose? Seems you would be fine w/ losing a young player that is going to develop. TT loves YOUNG players w/ developmental potential at the backup spots. Always has! Isn't that obvious to you by now? Leonhard is not someone TT loves, he's someone Ted Thompson avoids.

We don't know who initiated the talks and what kind of interest there is on the Packers part. I think its a name to keep in mind if there's an injury and Hyde and Clinton-Dix look lost. Nothing more... It would take alot to happen before the Packers would consider signing Leonhard.

Thompson's core philosophy is to stay young and develop talent. Leonhard doesn't fit that model at all.

BVanRoschke's picture

It's not a question of who am I willing to lose for the old man Leonhard. The question is who is going to be the safety or safeties that are going to miss the entire season because of injury. Based on the past three years chances are two of the four young bucks you mentioned won't be there at the end. You lose Burnett and or Hyde and you would be doing cart wheels if you have a Jim Leonhard to come in on the spot. So you would be comfortable with Dix and Richardson against SF or Russell Wilson in the NFC Championship game vs. having a Jim Leonhard back there? I wouldn't.

As for TT, I am not saying TT loves old guys. He hates them but he loves guys that are football players. Jim Leonhard is a football player. Julius Peppers is a football player. In rare cases he will keep older guys on the team if he feels they serve a purpose. He did it a few years ago keeping Driver for leadership purposes. Jim Leonhard fits that description and yes, they are "talking" so that tells me you are wrong Stroh. TT would not even say hello to the guy if he didn't have some type of possible interest. I am telling you TT is trying to get a nice mix on defense this season of young and old. He's sick of getting pushed around damnit!! Jim Leonhard could.. I say could.. be a part of TT's mix.

COW's picture

"...in the NFC Championship game..."

Whoa.

Um, are you talking about this year's team?
Wow. You're seeing something I'm not seeing.
Playoffs would be an accomplishment.

As for this Leonard garbage... who cares?
There are like a zillion guys equal to Leonard.
Banjo's probably better right now.

BVanRoschke's picture

lol.. Simon Cow up to his usual stuff again. Saying radical anti Packers stuff to piss people off. You do your job well Mr. Cow and I am so glad that I finally get the opportunity to converse with you despite our difference regarding this team.

Yes, I do see the Packers as a definite super bowl contender. This defense could be their best since 1996 and maybe even better I shit you not. It's all about injuries as you know. They stay healthy, all these young guys are going to suddenly have career years all at the same time. It's almost inevitable IF THEY STAY HEALTHY!!

That's where you and I differ. I happen to think TT is the best in the business and has this team absolutely loaded with talent. Age wise this should be their year and yes, I fully expect them to be back in the NFC Championship game and more than likely it will be against Seattle or SF. That's why I wouldn't mind a guy like Jimmy Leonhard on our team in case Burnett and or Hyde go down. I don't trust rookies in big games. I don't believe Clinton Dix will do what Sam Shields did against the Bears. I'd rather have a veteran back there.

COW's picture

Let's make a list of the proven defensive players who are above league average and currently in their primes, shall we?

1. Clay Matthews (until the thumb or the hammy knocks him out for a few games).
2. Mike Daniels (unless his size prevents him from being more than a situational player).
3. Sam Shields (as long as the $ doesn't go to his head a la Tramon Williams).

That's it.

I guess all you need to have a great defense is a very good (not great) corner, and undersized DL'man, and an oft-injured edge rusher.

Every other meaningful defensive player is either...
a) not good (Hawk, B. Jones, Burnett, Raji, D. Jones)
b) past their prime (Williams, Peppers)
c) unproven (Boyd, Hyde, Clinton - Dix, Lattimore, Bradford, Hayward)

BVanRoschke's picture

That's a fair assessment Cow. I respect your oppressive opinion on the defense. I love the fact you are such a downer because this is exactly what every board needs. You need a ying and yang. If everyone was as high on this defense as I am it would be effin boring.

Matthews, Daniels and Shields? I can see why you think that. I like to think ahead. You go by what you already know. I am going by my gut. I have a huge inkling about a lot of these oft injured 2nd thru 4th year guys and that's why I am a buyer of this 2014 Packers defense. I see a ton of these guys having breakout years. Again, it's almost inevitable it happens. If TT gets anything out of a rookie it's a bonus but I am not even including them. If Dix, Adams, or Bradford performs like Lacy look out.

Here's guys who I am expecting to bust out on defense.

Datone Jones
Josh Boyd
Micah Hyde
Casey Hayward
Jerel Worthy
Sam Barrington
Davon House
Mike Neal
Nick Perry

There could be a few more but history says most players make a huge leap from first to 2nd year. Some of these guys are 3 and 4 year guys who were injured or didn't get playing time due to numerous reasons. These guys aren't even headline names but I am expecting all these guys (IF HEALTHY) to have huge years. You throw in an inspired Julius Peppers, a motivated and back to his nose tackle position in B.J. Raji and I am telling you Cow, this defense could be one of the best since 1996. Hell, I don't mean could, I will go on record right here right now and say it will be (IF HEALTHY OF COURSE).

COW's picture

So you're basing on your opinion that 9 guys are all going to improve.

NINE.

Good luck with that.

By the way - you're completely discounting the fact that this year's defense will still be coordinated by Dom Capers which means that on - field confusion, predictability, un-inspired play, and and general ineffectiveness will abound.

BVanRoschke's picture

Take another look at that list of 9 guys Cow. Most are 2nd year guys and Neal and Perry are a little older. Neal and Perry have been injured most of their careers plus both were learning new positions at OLB. You don't think if Neal and Perry play a full season that they won't be better than last year? Come on Cow!! It's only natural this is their year to shine. Same goes for all those other guys. Most were rookies last year and it's almost a given they will ALL get better.

If there's anyone on my list that doesn't get better they will be cut but I don't see that happening. Even Davon House I see having his breakout season. He's also due. Came on strong towards the end. That's why I love this defense. It's the perfect storm of youth coming together all at once. All these young guys are almost guaranteed to get better this year and that will improve the defense dramatically. You are going to see a lot of light bulbs turning on this season all at once and that's only on defense.

The offense also has some guys like Sherrod, Bulaga, and Harris returning from injury to go along with an even better Eddie Lacy and the best qb in football with a solidified backup qb situation. Cow, why you are so down on this team I haven't a clue. Think back to the 70's and 80's and maybe you''ll brighten your mood on this team. You talk like this team is like one of those teams.

Stroh's picture

Well if you sign Leonhard and keep him on the roster you ARE losing another player. There's only 53 that can make the roster. Like I said, if they have any discussions w/ him that are real and legitimate, it would be a situation where injuries happen and they need a starter. Its an emergency contingency plan, but its not something you do now. Leanhard will probably be around for quite awhile. And if he isn't you go to the next contingency.

The Packers made a mistake a couple years ago and kept Driver around a year to long. If Driver hadn't won Dancing the Packers would have moved on w/o him a year earlier. Driver also used winning Dancing to leverage the Packers into keeping him that extra year. Driver was a wasted roster spot that last year. Jim Leonhard isn't going to prevent them being pushed around by another team and leaders can only lead if they are on the field! Otherwise they're just another voice.

The fact they had conversations w/ Leonhard is nothing more than kicking the tires on an emergency contingency plan. I'll say right here and right now, I guarantee they won't be signing Leonhard unless injuries, multiple injuries occur and Hyde and Clinton-Dix prove beyond a shadow of a doubt.

They had conversations Does NOT equal they are talking! What do they have to talk about? If they Packers want him they can sign him for the vets minimum. Its not like they are talking contract details!

Pack88's picture

I do not think you can compare Jim Leonhard to Gene Robinson; Robinson was a many time pro-bowl safety and Leonhard was just a guy; not bad but as others have said more like Mike Pryor and yes I would trust the young legs and instincts of Micah Hyde versus the 30+ y\o safety with two knee injuries

Stroh's picture

Robinson was also brought in to be the starter opposite of Butler. Leonhard would be at best a #4 Safety. So much more like Pryor than Robinson. But the Packers have plenty of options and don't need a backup Safety.

I'm perfectly comfortable going into the season w/ Burnett, Hyde, Clinton-Dix and Richardson.

BVanRoschke's picture

Obviously you are comfortable but nobody cares about your comfort level Stroh. The Packers are the ones uncomfortable about the position and rightfully so. You have three young guys with no experience and one guy (Burnett) suffering PTSD from having played next to M.D. Jennings last season. Who knows if he will ever recover from that. The Packers might need or want a veteran back there that knows what the hell he is doing assignment wise. I like Burnett but let's be honest, he's not the brightest bulb in the room. Maybe it's the deep southern accent I don't know.

As for your comparison to Mike Prior. Really? So this is the best guy you come up with Stroh? Jim Leonhard has been a starter most of his career just like Eugene Robinson was. Prior was a career backup. Give me a break. How about trying to eliminate skin color and just go on his talent. I hate when white guys have to compare white guys to other white guys. Like it's impossible to separate skin color. B.S. Leonhard is definitely comparable to Eugene Robinson talent wise. As Clay Zombo pointed out. Leonhard has played on some of the top defensive teams of all time and some of the best defensive coordinators in the business. He has value to this Packers team believe me. Maybe that's why he's "had conversations" with the Packers right Stroh?

Stroh's picture

You know what... Nobody cares what you think either! And since you responded to me, it obviously means you do care or you wouldn't be disagreeing so vehemently about something completely insignificant. Leonhard is nothing but a contingency plan. A long shot contingency plan, that is highly unlikely to happen.

BVanRoschke's picture

Oooh, a little testy I see over the fact you could be wrong. Face it, the Packers "had conversations" with Leonhard. That tells me they are uncomfortable. You can spin this any way you want to try to make yourself look good despite being wrong but you can't change the fact there's conversations going on and you don't like it. Deal with it Stroh.

COW's picture

Gotta side with Stroh here.

"Having conversations" doesn't mean a damn thing.
Leonards' agent calling Thompson and Thompson saying "thanks but no thanks" would qualify as a conversation.

Leonard will not play for the Packers.

Stroh's picture

We'll see who's right or wrong when the season starts. If Leonhard is on the roster you get to be right and I'll admit I was wrong. If Leonhard is NOT on the team and your wrong will you man up?!

Your saying Im wrong doesn't make it true. But keep yelling it makes you feel bigger. Truth is noone, not you or I know the level of converstation they've had w/ Leonhard, so don't act like you do know.

BVanRoschke's picture

No Stroh, I never said Leonhard is going to be on the roster. All I am saying is it makes sense to me that there's "conversations" going on in the background with him and that it is my opinion that he would make a good fit for this season for the Packers to have a veteran back there should they sustain multiple injuries to their safeties which more than likely will happen based on the past. Again, I can see why they are uncomfortable despite your relaxed attitude that they don't have a problem and no need to bring him in or any other veteran safety in. I am on the side of TT. You have your opinion I have mine. I doubt they sign him too but I would like to see it happen. I don't trust that these 4 guys will stay healthy for the entire season.

Stroh's picture

Its not like any of them are big injury concerns. Burnett had an ACL as a rookie but has played almost every defensive snap since. Hyde no injury concerns and nothing in his past to indicate possible injury concerns. Richardson has the neck, but a large part of being cleared from a neck injury is that there is no greater risk of reinjury or related problems. And the DB's in general isn't a real injury plagued position since they have a lot less hitting. So being afraid of injury isn't a big concern either. Like I mentioned repeatedly its nothing more than a contingency plan just in case.

I don't understand what you were arguing so vehemently for if you didn't think they would sign him...

BVanRoschke's picture

You need a little less motor mouth and do more listening and reading comprehension Stroh. I've only been here a short time and noticed you have a tendency to talk over other people as though you are some authority figure here. Maybe you are and I just didn't get the memo. If you are the authority here than I apologize to you and didn't know this is how things work here. It does seem everyone here sort of bows to you so I am probably in the wrong on this. Are you the creator of Cheesehead TV Stroh? Just curious.

P.S. I wasn't arguing with you or anyone else about Leonhard. It's called having a conversation and maybe disagreeing with people. That's all it is. You took it like I was upset and arguing. Again, if you are the head of CheesheadTV, I want to apologize to you Stroh for upsetting you. The last thing I want is to start off on the wrong foot with the guy who's in charge here.

Stroh's picture

You seem to be someone who has all the answers, most of which don't make much sense and are against the Packers Draft and Develop philosophy.

You seem to be disagreeing rather vehemently for someone who's allegedly here to have a conversation. Your the one that had all the answers for signing Leonhard to answer all the Packers Defensive problems, from safety starter to his bringing the toughness lacking on D. Neither of which is the case.

BVanRoschke's picture

You seem to be an abrasive asshole.

Stroh's picture

I guess that matches the impression your giving everyone too. But just remember you started this. All I did was state that its unlikely anything more than an emergency contigency plan. And you immediately started disagreeing vehemently, even tho now your saying you don't think they'll sign him either. Seems this is all just a chance to troll for an argument. Hope we don't have to continue w/ this kind of behavior.

Your coming across as someone who was banned here a few months ago.

BVanRoschke's picture

Yeah yeah, we all know you are the innocent victim and everyone else is the asshole. You just responded innocently like you always do. You are not to blame Stroh. I repeat, you are not to blame.

Stroh's picture

We'll see who's right or wrong when the season starts. If Leonhard is on the roster you get to be right and I'll admit I was wrong. If Leonhard is NOT on the team and your wrong will you man up?!

Allan Murphy's picture

vet i like that !

Clay Zombo's picture

As we have seen with Peppers a little bit, adding a veteran like Leonard would be beneficial to the young guys we have at the position. Its like having another coach on the field and in the classroom.

The guy has played on some damn good defenses and for some pretty good defensive coordinators so im sure hes got more to offer than just his play on the field.

Bring him in for training camp, get him familiar with the defense and if he don't make the intial cut to 53 than they can keep him on speed dial in case of injuries and he will at least have some knowledge of the defense where he could contribute sooner than later.

Big Moe's picture

I agree bring him in test him out and see if he's still got it, there's been a lack of leadership in the secondary since the departure of Charles Woodson imo.

BVanRoschke's picture

You are exactly right Clay Zombo. Having Leonhard on the field is just like having another coach on the field. Similar to having Rodgers or Manning on offense. He's that effing smart. I compare him to Ray Lewis and Urlacher in football smarts on the defensive side. Jim Leonhard is a psychic when it comes to diagnosing plays ahead of time. He's been that way ever since he stepped on the field at UW Madison.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

BVR: Suggesting Burnett has PTSD from playing opposite M.D. Jennings made me laugh (political correctness aside). But I have to agree with Stroh.

I would suggest that GB probably is okay at SS and FS with Burnett, Dix, Hyde, Richardson and Banjo. I am not sure that Leonhard has much left in his tank at 31. He is only 5'8" and his speed never more than average, but he is smart and played faster than he was. I am sure that TT is keeping his eye on possible emergency back-ups at multiple positions.

4thand1's picture

I called the Packer's front office and had a short conversation with them. I told them I'd be a step up at safety and would like a try out, they told me to get , well , fill in the blanks.
P.S. cow still sucks.

4thand1's picture

Cow how do you dislike me so many times on a single post? lmfao, you, like the Bears............................STILL SUCK.

RC Packer Fan's picture

My guess is the Packers are going to keep an eye on their Safety situation this year during camp and preseason and Jim Leonard is on their short list of players to bring in if they don't like what they see with the players they have.

Stroh's picture

I agree and thats what I've said all along. He's a backup contingency plan for injury/ineffective play for a couple of the current Safeties, if they feel they need a starter that would be reliable.

HankScorpio's picture

I'm a Jim Leonard fan. He's not great but he's definitely a legit NFL Safety, something the Packers have struggled to find to one degree or another for a decade.

Having said that, Leonard has said that this is his last NFL season no matter what. For that reason, and the younger options at Safety, I would keep his name on the "emergency list" and off the roster that opens TC.

As things stand now, I think there is a good chance he'd be behind Burnett, Hyde and Clinton-Dix in the pecking order and see no reason to use a roster spot that deep down the depth chart on what will be a dead end.

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