Just hours before free agency began, the Packers locked down one of their own. Nick Perry will remain in Green Bay.
The Packers were able to retain their 2016 sack leader and former first rounder with a five-year, $60 million contract. USA Today’s Tom Pelissero reports that Perry will make $20.8 million in his first year.
The move marks Green Bay’s first big deal of the 2017 free agency period. Perry reportedly tested the market, but ultimately decided to stay put. The two sides finalized the deal Thursday morning, just hours before the 4:00 ET official start of free agency.
He failed to live up to his first round billing over his first four years in the league. He totaled just 12.5 sacks over that time. But after signing a one-year prove it deal before 2016, the pass rusher responded.
Perry recorded 11 sacks in 2016, easily leading the Packers. That went with a career-high 52 tackles, despite missing two games with an injury. He also improved a lot as a run stopper, making him finally look like the all-around player Green Bay hoped for.
At the very least, the Packers now have two established pass rushers under contract in Perry and Clay Matthews. Julius Peppers, the other key LB in recent years, will likely not return to Green Bay for a fourth year.
The only concern now remains whether Perry can produce at a similar level to 2016. If the past year turned out to be a fluke, the Packers will have severely overpaid.
Perry has the ability to silence those doubts by continuing to perform. Throughout his career, the LB has flashed talent when healthy. Avoiding injury will likely be the biggest key to his continued dominance.
The Packers still have other needs they need to address, but retaining Nick Perry is a huge step in building an effective defense for the future.