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Former Badgers HC Jim Leonhard could earn coveted Packers DC gig

The former Badgers head coach was considered for the position in 2021, but passed it up.

Syndication: Journal Sentinel Mark Hoffman / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Green Bay Packers made headlines on Wednesday when the organization announced that defensive coordinator Joe Barry would not return for the 2024 season.

Holding the role since 2021, Barry had been a highly-criticized coordinator during his tenure, which made his dismissal on Monday somewhat anticipated, although head coach Matt LaFleur declined to talk specifics just two days ago following the Packers’ loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Divisional Round.

With Barry out of the picture, one name that the Packers could look to hire is former Wisconsin Badgers head coach Jim Leonhard, who was considered for the position in 2021.

Leonhard was reportedly LaFleur’s top choice during that cycle, according to The Athletic, but ultimately chose to remain at Wisconsin as the school’s defensive coordinator, leading the head coach to pick Barry over top candidates like Ejiro Evero, who has turned into one of the NFL’s top coordinators over the past few seasons.

Now, a potential pairing between Leonhard and the Packers is possible, as the former Badgers head coach is currently a senior defensive analyst with the Illinois Fighting Illini, but has been in regard for several defensive coordinator jobs, both in the NFL and in college, over the last two cycles.

Will Leonhard return to Wisconsin for a different team? Or will the Packers go in a different direction to fill their newly-created void.