Green Bay Packers defensive free agents: Who stays and who goes?

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Mike Neal knocks the ball away from Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan.

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports photograph

5. Mike Neal – picked in the second round of the 2010 draft, Neal really came on strong this season. With the absence of Clay Matthews for the majority of the regular season, Neal stepped into the role of outside linebacker and performed it masterfully. He had 5.5 sacks this season, a forced fumble and an interceptions … not shabby numbers for a guy who constantly battled injuries to his shoulder, ankle and knee.

  • Returns to GB if – he can work with a reasonable price tag. The Packers are not really known to overpay a guy (see Greg Jennings) for a position that they can refill. Datone Jones is emerging as a quick-step guy off blocks, Nick Perry is still in the talks for the future across from Clay Matthews. Neal is valuable, don’t get me wrong, and has expressed deep interest in staying in Green Bay. Offseason negotiations will tell just how seriously he can commit to that revelation. I think he has more than shown that he is worthy of an extension and he hopes that Packers brass shares that belief.
  • Walks from GB if – Neal wants more money than the Packers are willing to pay. Coming off of a productive, yet injury-laden season … it seems more likely that both sides will agree to terms. The defensive line is about to get a shakedown and the Packers would be wise to make sure and seal Neal up for a couple more seasons.