GREEN BAY — Ahmad Brooks had his doubts. Cast adrift after nine years in San Francisco, the two-time All-Pro outside linebacker wasn’t sure he wanted to start over. At 33, he contemplated calling it quits.
“I thought about it,” Brooks said Monday afternoon. “That thought came in my mind.”
Then the Green Bay Packers made him an offer he couldn’t refuse: The most money — reportedly $3.5 million, with potential incentives worth another $1.5 million — and the opportunity to play with two-time NFL MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers, whom he’d faced seven times, including twice in the playoffs, during his time with the 49ers.
As it turned out, Rodgers was one of the first to welcome him to his new team.
“He pretty much told me, ‘I’m glad that you’re a part of the team now and I don’t have to worry about you on Sundays.’ And I was like, ‘The same goes for me — I don’t have to worry about you on Sundays,’ ” a smiling Brooks said after his first practice with the Packers. “I mean, you’ve got your (two) top, elite quarterbacks in the NFL. You’ve got (New England’s) Tom Brady. You’ve got Aaron Rodgers. And then whoever else is after that. Those are the two.
“He’s awesome. He’s amazing. When you have somebody like that at quarterback, he gives you a chance to win (every) Sunday. And I’m just happy to be a part of the team.”
The Packers are hoping Brooks can have the same effect on opposing quarterbacks as Rodgers has on opposing defenses. While they revamped their outside linebacker depth chart behind starters Clay Matthews and Nick Perry since Saturday’s final roster cuts — adding Brooks, trading Jayrone Elliott to the Dallas Cowboys and claiming ex-Atlanta Falcons edge rusher Chris Odom on waivers — Brooks is the big-name addition they’re hoping can be a difference-maker.
“He’s an athletic linebacker, a guy who can rush — a violent rusher. If his speed is still up to par to what I saw when I was there, he’ll give a lot of skill positions a run for their money,” said defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois, who played with Brooks in San Francisco. “Hell of a football player. To bring him on, he’s going to be a big addition.
“He’s going to help our defense and he’s going to help the outside linebacker room.”
Matthews (groin) and Perry (ankle) returned to practice Monday after missing the final week or so of training camp, and both figure to be ready to go for Sunday’s regular-season opener against Seattle.
But Brooks should see plenty of snaps as well as part of a pass-rushing rotation charged with getting after and containing the Seahawks’ Russell Wilson, the former University of Wisconsin quarterback.
“I mean, it’s not that hard to rush the passer, you know? All you got to do is line up and go,” Brooks said. “I think in the first week hopefully they’ll throw me out there and rush the passer.”
Added Packers coach Mike McCarthy: “We’ll just keep working at it. We’ve got work to do.”
The 6-foot-3, 259-pound Brooks, who turned 33 in March, was cut by the 49ers on Aug. 25, when first-year coach Kyle Shanahan decided to go younger and cheaper at the position.
In addition, the 49ers have shifted to a 4-3 scheme, which wasn’t ideal for Brooks, who has had at least six sacks in each of the past six seasons and left the 49ers with the third-most sacks in team history (51.5).
“It’s a good fit for me,” Brooks said. “I’m comfortable playing in a 3-4 scheme. I played it all throughout college, I played it all throughout my years in San Francisco. They do things a little bit different here.
“The terminology is different, of course, so it’s going to take me a while to pick it up. But I think I’ll do good.”
Odom, meanwhile, visited the Packers before the draft and thought he might wind up in Green Bay after going undrafted out of Arkansas State. He went to Atlanta instead and had a strong preseason with the Falcons (two sacks, four tackles for loss) before the team cut him in hopes of stashing him on the practice squad.
With five minutes before the end of the waiver period, Odom’s agent called to tell him the Packers had claimed him.
“I had already kind of accepted I was going to be (on the) practice squad for Atlanta, so I definitely appreciate them giving me an opportunity,” Odom said. “I knew I was going to be back in Green Bay eventually, so I’m definitely happy to be part of this program.”
As is Brooks, who played in Super Bowl XLVII with the 49ers, losing to Baltimore.
“I didn’t know where I wanted to go. (But) Green Bay offered me the best contract. They had the best team. I wanted to be a part of a winning tradition, a winning organization. And coming here gives me that,” Brooks said. “That’s why we play sports. Regardless of what level of sports you’re playing, that’s the ultimate goal as a team: You want to win a championship.
“I’ve come close in my career but just haven’t won one, so hopefully I can get one this year.”