It’s been two days, but it already feels like a full offseason’s worth of deals have gone through. In yesterday’s whirlwind of activity, two Packers found new homes. Defensive back Micah Hyde is off to Buffalo on a deal that far outstrips his actual value, and C/G JC Tretter is off to Cleveland, where he’ll get a well-deserved chance as a starter.
Among the Packers’ remaining free agents, both running back Eddie Lacy and Guard TJ Lang are rumored to be entertaining interest from Seattle and Detroit, and talks with Jared Cook, who Aaron Rodgers specifically wanted back, have reportedly broken down.
There was, however, a bit of good news for Packer fans yesterday, as the team re-signed outside linebacker Nick Perry, who had a career year in 2016. This move became doubly important today with the news that outside linebacker Julius Peppers has signed a contract to return to the Carolina Panthers, who made him the number one pick back in 2002.
While Packers twitter is filled with debate over the signing, I believe it’s one of the better deals Ted has made in recent years. Let’s take a look at the terms of the contract. In total, Perry has been signed to a 5-year, $60 million contract.
As with all free agent contracts however, this total figure is nigh-on meaningless. The entire guaranteed portion of the contract comes in the form of his $18.5 million signing bonus, and further portions become guaranteed on the third day of the league year in 2018 and 2019 in the form of $4.3 million and $4.8 million roster bonuses accordingly. Per spotrac, his cap hits for the life of the contract are as follows:
2017: $5.875 million
2018: $10.9 million
2019: $14.7 million
2020: $14.3 million
2021: $13.1 million
These cap figures, especially the 2017 number, are remarkably good for a top-tier pass rusher which is obviously what the Packers hope Perry can continue to be. The under $6 million cap number for this year means that the Packers retain around $30 million in cap room currently for the coming season, which would lead me to hope that they plan to be a little more active in the remaining period of free agency.
The important question is does his production justify what, while very team friendly in terms, is still a massive chunk of money to commit to a guy. In my opinion, yes. After a very mediocre few first years, especially for a first round pick, last year Perry really broke out. While spending half the season battling through a broken hand, resulting in the enormous club that has somewhat become his unintended trademark, Perry was able to record 11 sacks on the year. That tied him for 8th in the league with such top of the pass rusher pyramid names as pro-bowl outside ‘backer Ryan Kerrigan and Defensive Player of the Year/multi-position All Pro Khalil Mack.
Not only was his productivity against the pass in 2016 by far the best of his career, he stepped up against the run as well. Per ProFootballFocus, Perry ranked as the #1 3-4 OLB/4-3 DE against the run in the entire NFL. With this level of performance in mind, I think it’s a wonderfully team friendly deal for the Packers, at the lower end for pass rushers with that kind of performance. If Clay Matthews can find some resurgence in his quality of play opposite, it could become an even better deal by allowing Perry to make a greater impact if Clay can demand more attention like he has in years prior to the last.