Hayward Earning Big Payday, Too

Even without an interception, Casey Hayward has been productive for the Green Bay Packers, especially since settling into a role in the slot.

The Green Bay Packers handed standout defensive tackle Mike Daniels, a fourth-round pick in 2012, a four-year contract extension on Monday.

The standout second-round pick from that draft, cornerback Casey Hayward, said there have been no contract negotiations.

“No, not that I know of,” Hayward said on Monday. “I’m not worried too much about it, really. I’ve just got to worry about the way I’m playing. My style of playing, it just speaks for itself. It’s about priorities. Mike’s one of the priorities. We definitely needed Mike back. He’s been one of our best defensive players for the last couple of years. I’m glad he got that deal. He’s definitely deserving.”

There’s no doubt that some team will find Hayward deserving of a big contract in free agency. Perhaps that will be with some team other than the Packers, though. Green Bay has a lot of money invested in veteran Sam Shields, who has base salaries of $8 million and cap numbers of $12.125 million in 2016 and 2017. Plus, it drafted Damarious Randall in the first round and Quinten Rollins in the second round. Moreover, the Packers can’t afford to pay everyone, and Daniels – depending on the structure of his salary – could be the 10th player on the roster with a cap number of more than $6 million for 2016.

Hayward had six interceptions as a rookie and three more last season, giving him a three-year total of nine. He has no interceptions this season, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t played at a high level most weeks. Other than the Denver game, where Hayward lined up outside rather than in the slot because of injuries, he’s played well for most of the season. Since then, the Packers have moved forward with Randall and Shields as the starters in the base defense with Hayward playing in the slot in the nickel package.

“People want turnovers. If I had a couple turnovers, people would say I’m playing at even a higher level, but the things that I do don’t show up on the stat sheet sometimes,” Hayward said. “I think I’ve been playing at a high level. They haven’t been throwing many balls at me or completing many balls on me. I think I’m right about the 50 mark for completion percentage. I feel like I only have one bad game, which everyone has a bad game, but overall, I think I’ve been playing good. It’s not about me, though. It’s about winning and we’ve won these last two weeks and I think I’ve contributed at a high level these last two weeks. We’ve got three more weeks to clinch a spot in the playoffs.”

The zero-interception stat is a byproduct of some bad luck. A couple weeks ago, cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt figured Hayward should have at least four interceptions if not for losing them because of penalties or balls that were tipped at the line of scrimmage on plays that Hayward had read perfectly. In the loss to Chicago a few weeks ago, Whitt said, Hayward would have had a pick-six had the ball not slipped out quarterback Jay Cutler’s hand.

“It just works out like that sometimes,” Hayward said. “I had two interceptions called back – Kansas City and San Diego, I had interceptions in my hands but penalties were called. It’s bigger than interceptions and things like that. I just try to play at a high level, and if I wasn’t, I wouldn’t be playing. Trust me, I wouldn’t be playing if I wasn’t playing at a high level.”

Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.

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