Rumors persist, so let's see if I can clobber this nonsense before it robs me of sleep.
Green Bay drafted Aaron Kampman in the fifth round of the 2002 draft. In his first two seasons, he started 16 games, played in 24 and had 2.5 sacks. 2.5. Those were his age 23 and 24 seasons.
He started all 32 games he played over the next two seasons, his age 25 and age 26 seasons, and improved his sack totals to 4.5 and 6.5. Subtle, aren't I?
The next year, he turned 27, and BOOM SHAKALAKA! he recorded 15.5 sacks.
30: 3.5 and was injured for most of the season.
Arizona drafted Kyle Vanden Bosch in the second round of the 2001 draft. Over four seasons, he started 20 games and had four sacks. Tennessee signed him in 2005, the year he turned 27, and WITH AUTHORITY! Vanden Bosch started 16 games and recorded 12.5 sacks.
I'm not making this up.
Seattle drafted Darryl Tapp in the second round of 2006. Through four seasons, he has 18 sacks. Kampman, 13.5. Vanden Bosch, four. He turns 26 in 2010. He is entering his prime. In 2009, he had 13 quarterback hurries, tied for seventh in all of football. He's improving. He's hugely valuable. He's not old man Kampman or old man Vanden Bosch, he's the next Kampman, the next Vanden Bosch.
If he gets the chance.
Lawrence Jackson is 24. He has 6.5 sacks through two seasons. Better than Kampman; better than Vanden Bosch.
Pass rushers peak. Tim Ruskell struck gold by signing Bryce Fisher before his age 28 season. Pass rushers fade, Ruskell signed Patrick Kerney, got a surprise breakout season, and then was stuck with a declining end that cost too much to cut.
It's so early in the process. Please, please do not screw this up. The talent you covet is on the roster, waiting to develop. Don't sign a veteran because of the illusion of a sure thing. Tapp and Jackson are younger, cheaper, healthier and have better potential than either Kampman or Vanden Bosch. And if they don't develop, you have committed nothing. If Kampman or Vanden Bosch bust, you've set the franchise back the way Grant Wistrom did, the way Kerney is.