Chargers Hire Ex-Packers Super Bowl-Winning Coach, Former Player

Chargers Hire Ex-Packers James Campen

Getty In this photo provided by the NFL, James Campen of the Green Bay Packers poses for his 2010 NFL headshot circa 2010 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

A longtime Green Bay Packers coach who was part of their last Super Bowl-winning squad will be part of the changing landscape for the Los Angeles Chargers next season.

James Campen, who also played center for the Packers from 1989 through 1993, will lead the Chargers’ offensive line for the 2020 season, according to ESPN’s Rob Demovsky. Campen spent 12 years as the Packers’ offensive line coach before leaving to take on the same role — along with associate head coaching duties — with the Cleveland Browns last offseason.

Campen got his coaching start with the Packers in 2004 as an assistant/quality control coach for the offensive line under then-head coach Mike Sherman and was retained and promoted to the main role when Mike McCarthy replaced Sherman. He became a staple of McCarthy’s coaching tree and was given more responsibility as offensive run-game coordinator for the 2018 season prior to his exit.

Campen helped develop a number of Packers’ mid-round draft picks into Pro Bowl offensive linemen during his tenure, including retired guards Josh Sitton (fourth round) and T.J. Lang (fourth) and current starters Corey Linsley (fifth) and David Bakhtiari (fourth).

Per ESPN’s Field Yates, the Chargers are also bringing in David Diaz-Infante to serve as Campen’s assistant coach as the pair attempt to correct one of the team’s biggest weakness for the past few seasons. The Chargers offensive line ranked 29th in the league during the 2019 season, according to Pro Football Focus, with injuries only making the problem worse in a disappointing campaign.

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Could Current Packers Follow Campen to L.A.?

Campen didn’t take any of the Packers’ offensive linemen with him when he moved on to Cleveland last season, but there is always a chance there could be a reunion in 2020 between him and a few players he coached during his days in Green Bay.

It also depends on how the Packers handle the offseason. Lane Taylor is a prime candidate to be cut from the roster this offseason after an injury allowed rookie Elgton Jenkins to swipe his starting job at left guard. Cutting Taylor would also be financially sensible in terms of creating more cap space as he would earn far too much money to be a backup lineman.

The Packers will also have to make a judgment call on current starting right tackle Bryan Bulaga, who is set to become a free agent this offseason with a high price tag — the current market value sets his next contract at about $10.1 million per year. While re-signing him remains a strong possibility, Bulaga might find himself looking for a new team if they opt to go another direction.

The Chargers have some injury concerns with left tackle Russell Okung, so it isn’t unreasonable to think they might be interested in Bulaga, especially if Campen has faith or past knowledge that convinces him Bulaga could thrive on the left side. The familiarity might be too much of a factor in this case, but L.A. should also be open to whatever help they can get as they attempt to rebuild without longtime quarterback Philip Rivers.

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