It sounds like Jim Leonhard was offered the Packers defensive coordinator gig, but the veteran coach decided to stick with Wisconsin. Matt Schneidman of The Athletic tweets that Leonhard informed the Packers last night that he won’t accept their defensive coordinator job.
Wisconsin State Journal reporter Tom Oates tweets that Leonhard met with Packers head coach Matt LaFleur via Zoom on Tuesday and in-person on Thursday. After careful consideration, Leonhard determined that “his heart was at UW and in college coaching at this time,” and he ended up rejecting Green Bay’s apparent offer (via Oates).
“It was me choosing UW,” Leonhard told Oates (Twitter link). “I want to stay at UW. I want to be at this level right now. Extremely flattered. Awesome opportunity. But it was not the right time for me to go back to the NFL.”
Following a 10-year playing career, Leonhard joined the Wisconsin coaching staff in 2016. After initially serving as a defensive backs coach, the Wisconsin alumni was promoted to defensive coordinator in 2017. During his first season in his new role, Leonhard was nominated for the Broyles Award, which recognizes the top assistants in the country. Under Leonhard’s watch, Wisconsin has deployed a top-10 scoring defense in three of the past four seasons.
With the 38-year-old Leonhard out of the picture, the Packers will shift focus to one of their many other candidates. We learned this week that LaFleur was set to interview a long list of names as potential replacements for Mike Pettine, including Dolphins DC Matt Burke, Browns defensive line coach Chris Kiffin, Saints D-line coach Ryan Nielsen and Packers secondary coach Jerry Gray. The team has also interviewed Chargers passing-game coordinator Joe Barry, Washington secondary coach Chris Harris and Rams safeties coach Ejiro Evero, along with Bob Sutton and Kris Richard (who have since found gigs elsewhere).
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