The Jacksonville Jaguars are giving oft-injured defensive end Aaron Kampman a chance to catch on elsewhere.
The Jaguars released the veteran pass rusher Thursday, five days before the start of a mandatory, three-day minicamp.
Kampman has missed 28 games over the last three seasons while playing for Jacksonville and Green Bay, including 13 last year. He had 57 tackles and four sacks in 11 games during his two seasons with the Jaguars.
He sat out all of organized team activities last month while recovering from a second surgery on his right knee. With a salary near $5 million in 2012, and the return of Austen Lane and John Chick from injuries and the addition of second-round draft pick Andre Branch, it became unlikely that Kampman would make the 53-man roster. Releasing him now gives Kampman a better chance to sign with another team and prove he is healthy.
”I would like to take this moment to thank the Jaguars organization and the Jacksonville community,” Kampman said in a statement. ”My time here has provided many special memories with a number of great people. You have all been very kind to me and my family. We are so grateful for the friendships that we have developed. You have made our time on the First Coast very special.”
Kampman was one of the league’s elite pass rushers in his prime with the Packers, recording 48 sacks between 2004 and 2008. But he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in 2009 and hasn’t been the same since.
Despite the injury, the Jaguars gave Kampman a four-year contract worth $25 million in 2010. The deal included $10 million guaranteed.
Kampman played eight games in 2010 before tearing the ACL in his right knee. He tried to come back last season, but had several setbacks. A hamstring injury complicated his rehabilitation and he ended up on injured reserve for a third consecutive season.
The Jaguars could have kept him through training camp to see if he could get back to full speed, but his salary would have been really high for someone whose role has been reduced to part-time player.
Teammates reacted on Twitter.
”Sad to see Kampman go,” Lane posted on his Twitter page. ”I’m grateful for the things he taught me on the field but more importantly about life. I wish him the best of luck!”
Added defensive tackle Terrance Knighton: ”Aaron Kampman is THE best teammate I ever had. Hate to see him go.”