The free agency period is rapidly approaching, being less than one month away. Now is a good time to take a look at who the Green Bay Packers have returning on defense.
Safeties Locked-in for 2017: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Morgan Burnett, Kentrell Brice, Marwin Edwards and Jermaine Whitehead.
Free Agents: Micah Hyde
Review of Safeties: Clinton-Dix and Burnett have become quite the dynamic duo this past season, Clinton-Dix playing every defensive snap in the regular season. Burnett, on the other hand, was on the field for 89 percent of the time. Their time on the field together greatly benefited their relationship with each other, increasing the synergy on defense.
“When you have premier players on your defense and they line up and play 1,000 plays, to me that says it all,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said.
Hyde seemed to be very versatile last season, playing both the safety and slot positions. He played exceptionally well in the nickel and dime defense. Over the course of the last seven games, Hyde had four interceptions, including the playoffs.
Big Brice, the hard-hitting undrafted rookie, had a very good season in terms of learning and gaining experience in the dime after Burnett moved closer to the line of scrimmage.
The Green Bay Packers will most likely work out a long-term extension with Clinton-Dix, or exercise their fifth-year option on his rookie contract. Dom Capers, the defensive coordinator, seems to be very fond of Clinton-Dix, being the best playmaking safety since Nick Collins.
Clinton-Dix is the best choice to build around on defense. He has been the best draft pick since Aaron Rodgers (2005) and Clay Matthews (2009). He had five interceptions throughout the season, tying Landon Collins of the New York Giants for most interceptions by a safety.
Hyde will be looking for big money, most likely trying to land a four-year, $4 million deal. When that time comes, McCarthy will have to figure out how much they value him, and whether his versatility is good enough… or even worth it.
If the Green Bay Packers choose to pass on Hyde, they do have Brice and Evans to fall back on, even though they played more on special teams than on defense. The defense is the Packers biggest priority, especially pass-rushers and cornerbacks. It’ll be interesting to see how the Packers make out this offseason.