Jim Leonhard is staying in Madison.
The Wisconsin State Journal reported Saturday morning that the Wisconsin defensive coordinator had turned down the Green Bay Packers offer to run their defense. Leonhard reportedly met with coach Matt LaFleur twice this week before telling him he would not be taking the job.
#Badgers DC Jim Leonhard on turning down #Packers’ job offer: “It was me choosing UW. 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.”
— Tom Oates (@TomOatesWSJ) February 6, 2021
Leonhard, a three-time All-American with the Badgers in the early 2000s, returned to his alma mater in 2016 as Wisconsin’s defensive backs coach. He took over as defensive coordinator the following year and has put together one of the best units in the country over the last four seasons.
This is not the first time a team has come calling for Leonhard. The Los Angeles Rams were intrigued with him before hiring Brandon Staley as their coordinator prior to last season. Multiple college powerhouses, including Alabama, tried to lure Leonhard away in recent years but failed. It’s believed the 38-year-old Leonhard would be a favorite to replace current Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst whenever his time running things comes to an end.
A 10-year NFL veteran, Leonhard played under former Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine with multiple teams. His familiarity with that system, along with him putting his own stamp on the scheme while with the Badgers, was likely a big draw for LaFleur if he didn’t want to completely overhaul his defense.
According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Leonhard was one of two candidates the Packers were zeroing in on. The other is Rams safeties coach Ejiro Evero, who has been in LA the last four seasons but did spend 2016 with the Packers as a defensive quality control coach.