The Green Bay Packers have retained their most important free agent, outside linebacker Nick Perry.
The five-year deal matches what Packer Report was told was being offered by the Jets. In all, the contract is worth $60 million, which includes an $18.5 million signing bonus.
No doubt, Perry and his agents took advantage of the negotiating window to find their best deal, then took it to the Packers.
"I just want to thank the organization all the way from the top down, coaching staff, teammates that have helped me along the way," Perry said on Thursday evening. "We got this thing done and I’m just really excited to be here for another five years. It’s been a great road, long journey and there’s a lot more to come. Obviously, there’s a lot of things going on with free agency. I don’t really know much about most things going on, but I can assure you we’re trying to assimilate the best Packers team that we can to compete for the championship again. I’m just excited to be here with this great organization. We got work to do."
Signing Perry was critical to the Packers’ attempt to rebuild an awful defense.
“We very excited to have Nick remain a Packer," coach Mike McCarthy said in a press release officially announcing the news. "I’ve enjoyed watching his development as a player and leader over the last five seasons. Nick is a core member of our team and he will be an important part of our success moving forward.”
"Happy and excited to see my friend and teammate @NickTheGreat8 return!" wrote defensive tackle Mike Daniels on Twitter.
Perry, the team’s first-round pick in 2012, played like it in 2016. Through his first four seasons — when he missed 18 of a possible 64 regular-season games and made just 16 starts — Perry had 12.5 sacks and 19 additional hurries (according to STATS). Finding a tepid market last offseason, Perry returned on a one-year deal worth just more than $5 million.
The Packers enjoyed every penny of that deal.
Perry had a team-high 11 sacks along with 16.5 additional hurries and 15 quarterback hits (according to the coaches’ count). Perry missed two games with a broken hand but recorded three one-handed sacks in the final two regular-season games. Adding the sacks to the coaches’ hit count, that’s a total of 26. Julius Peppers had 19.5, Clay Matthews had 18 and Datone Jones had 17. In ProFootballFocus.com’s pass-rushing productivity, which measures sacks, hits and pressures per pass-rushing snap, Perry was a team-best 24th out of the 57 3-4 outside linebackers who played more than 140 pass-rushing snaps.
Not only did Perry lead the pass rush, but his 60 tackles were twice as many as any of the team’s other outside linebackers. His tackle rate of one for every 10.05 snaps. That was much better than Matthews (19.83), Peppers (19.47) and Jones (18.27). Long regarded as one of the best run-stopping linebackers in the league, Perry ranked No. 1 among outside linebackers who played at least 104 snaps vs. the run in ProFootballFocus.com’s run-stop percentage, which measures impact tackles. In fact, Perry led the NFL’s edge defenders in that stat. Perry had 24 run stops in the regular season; Matthews and Peppers combined for only 14. Perry led the outside linebacker corps with five stuffs (tackles at or behind the line of scrimmage vs. the run).
Beyond production, keeping Perry was key given the state of their outside linebacker corps. Clay Matthews, who will turn 31 on May 14, is coming off the worst statistical season of his career and Julius Peppers and Datone Jones, hardly stalwarts anyway, are free agents. Plus, last year's third-round pick, Kyler Fackrell, made only a minor impact as a rookie.
According to a source, Perry's base salary is less than $2 million for 2017 and 2018, $5.2 million in 2019 and about $9.5 million for 2020 and 2021. It's essentially a two-year contract, with Perry having cap hits of $5.855 million in 2017 and $10.9 million in 2018. Thanks to a $4.3 roster bonus due just after the start of the 2019 league-year, his cap charge rises to a contract-high $14.7 million for 2019. While his base salary swells for the final two years of the contract, his cap charges dip a bit to $14.3 million in 2020 and $14.1 million in 2021.
Perry's injury history was mitigated via $600,000 in annual roster bonuses, which are paid out on a per-game basis. That works out to $37,500 for each game played.
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.