GREEN BAY – If the Green Bay Packers want to bring in a veteran safety this offseason, former University of Wisconsin standout Jim Leonhard has the perfect guy for them.
The Ladysmith, Wis. native, who turns 32 in October, has played 126 career games for five NFL teams – Buffalo (2005 through 2007), Baltimore (2008), the New York Jets (2009 through 2011), Denver (2012) and Buffalo again last season. But he’s played in just seven postseason games during those eight seasons, reaching the AFC Championship Game in 2008 with the Ravens (a loss to the eventual Super Bowl-champion Pittsburgh Steelers) and 2009 with the Jets (a loss to the Indianapolis Colts) before losing in the AFC Divisional Playoffs on with the Broncos in 2012. The Bills finished 6-10 last season.
“I’m chasing a ring. I’ve been extremely close a number of times,” Leonhard said in an interview with Jim Rutledge and Greg Scalzo on ESPN Madison Monday. “That’s all I’m playing for. I want to get a Super Bowl. I want to at least have that experience.”
For his career, Leonhard has 385 tackles, 12 interceptions and two forced fumbles. According to Pro Football Focus, Leonhard played 634 snaps for the Bills last season and was targeted 27 times in pass coverage, allowing 16 completions, including four touchdowns.
The 5-foot-8, 190-pound Leonhard might not fit the Packers’ size requirements for the safety position, but the position is an obvious need for them. M.D. Jennings started all 17 games (including playoffs), but the Packers played Jennings, 2012 fourth-round pick Jerron McMillian, who was released late in the season, Chris Banjo and Sean Richardson alongside Morgan Burnett during the course of the season.
The Packers’ safeties failed to intercept a pass all season, while Leonhard had a career-high four interceptions last season.
“I don’t want to play that much longer. I’m going to be a little picky here this offseason and see what happens. I’m excited to see where it goes,” Leonhard said. “I’d obviously love to come back to Green Bay and play for the hometown fans. That would make a lot of people happy, a lot of my family happy. They wouldn’t be quite as conflicted, having to cheer for some teams that they maybe rather wouldn’t.
“But you never know. Obviously there’s got to be mutual interest on both ends. I’m excited for the process but also nervous to see how it plays out."
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