Green Bay Packers: Six free agents they should consider signing
By Kenn Korb
Terence Newman, CB, Minnesota
2016 Statistics (754 snaps): 38 tackles, 1 INT, 8 passes defensed
PFF Rankings: 86.4 (overall); 85.7 (coverage), 80.6 (run defense), 57.7 (pass rush)
Pass rushers are one area of need for the Packers, but a bigger one — perhaps the biggest on the team — is the cornerback spot.
Right now, Green Bay is looking at a main group of LaDarius Gunter, Damarious Randall, and Quinten Rollins to man the cornerback spots. That’s just plain unacceptable. Gunter had a pretty decent year across most of 2016, but he was wildly miscast as a #1 option injuries and poor play around him forced him to try to be (at the start of the season, he was supposed to be the #4 cornerback, so his struggles shouldn’t be too surprising). Randall and Rollins each went from promising as rookies to injury-hampered and underachieving as sophomores.
IF all of those guys are healthy and playing at their highest potential, it’d be a solid group. Based off what we’ve seen through two years that would be foolish though, and somebody new must be brought in — especially when we get into the facts that Sam Shields is already gone and Micah Hyde is a free agent. The draft will obviously be a space to target someone, but with so much flux and a sudden lack of veteran voices at the position, bringing in an experienced option to help lead would be prudent.
More than anyone else who’s available, Newman could fill that role.
Newman is an old-as-hell vet who has been in the league since 2003 and turns 39 by the time the 2017 season begins; amazingly, he just put together one of his best professional seasons last year (at least going by Pro Football Focus’ grading metrics). He isn’t a high-turnover guy, but he does play solidly and has still proven able to take on some of the better receiving talents in the league, standing as a big part of the Minnesota’s 8th-rated pass defense DVOA in 2016. He seems to be one of those elusive ageless wonders, a player who will be effective until the day he retires.
Contract numbers shouldn’t be a problem, seeing as Newman’s past four contracts never topped $2.5 million per season. That level of money has an outside chance at not hindering compensatory pick calculations. Though the exact metrics are not privy to the public, most indications point to contract values massively affecting those determinations; along with that, there are only 32 given out each year. There’s a clear possibility 32 or more players could sign bigger deals, and that’s before expecting Newman to get a deal lower than the $2.5 million one he just completed.
The only issue with Newman would be figuring out if he’ll play somewhere that Mike Zimmer is not. Throughout Newman’s career, he’s only been to places where Zimmer is/was: they were together on Dallas from 2003-2006, regrouped in Cincinnati from 2012-2014, and then Newman followed Zimmer to Minnesota in 2015. His worst seasons have come in years without Zimmer, and meeting back up with him in Cincinnati revitalized Newman’s career.
Could he still be effective outside of that system? If he plays next year, we may find out. The Vikings may no longer have the sort of role Newman is interested in. They’ve drafted a ton of corners in the past few years, and those guys all should be in line for major roles. Xavier Rhodes has hinted at shutdown ability at times.
Trae Waynes hasn’t been too good as of yet, but has plenty of potential. MacKenzie Alexander got little playtime as a rookie, and coaches likely would like to see how he fares in a bigger role. There’s also the matter of slot corner Captain Munnerlyn; he’s a free agent who’s played well in his time with the Vikings and would be hard to replace. If his price tag doesn’t make the Vikings immediately balk, he’s likely returning in a major role yet again. If he is there in 2017, Newman almost certainly will not be.
If Newman plays somewhere other than Minnesota, he’s got some choices. A return to Dallas or Cincinnati could be in the cards (both have free agents at the cornerback position who could leave), but he could also find a strong combination of impactful role and championship opportunity in Green Bay.
For his expected levels of contract price and remaining ability, he’d be a worthy addition, even if it is just for one year.