For the second consecutive year, the Green Bay Packers have re-signed a cornerback that they previously allowed to depart for greener pastures. The signing of Tramon Williams, this offseason’s addition, could be bad news for Davon House, the signing from last summer.
Williams just turned 35, normally a prohibitively advanced age for a cornerback. But he’s always been an uncommonly springy athlete, with excellent speed, quickness and leaping ability.
That athleticism appears to have waned only slightly, as he put together another very good season in coverage with the Arizona Cardinals in 2017. At this point, he’s very likely to be an opening day starter alongside Kevin King.
House, surprisingly enough, will only turn 29 this July. He theoretically should have several years left near the top of his game.
Yet House has always been a stiffer, more straight-line athlete than Williams. While Williams has been adept in off-coverage, House faltered in Jacksonville when not playing press. He wins by using his length (6-foot-1), physicality and speed.
House was fine last year, at best. He no longer has the athleticism to match up with starting receivers who win via quickness or speed.
But he’s a leader in the locker room who fights through injuries and gives his all to the team. He’s also very experienced and still has some value in matchups against slow, physical receivers, as evidenced by his success last season against Tampa Bay’s Mike Evans.
So should the Packers bring House back?
The Packers already traded their best cornerback, and the position was a need to begin with. Just because they signed a soon-to-be-35-year-old veteran doesn’t mean that they can necessarily afford to let House walk.
Ultimately, it comes down to opportunity and cost. It would be nice to have House on the roster as a fourth or fifth corner, should injuries make it necessary to call upon him.
But the Packers clearly need to begin developing new, young corners. Starting House and Williams this season could impede the development of the corner(s) that Brian Gutekunst ends up drafting, as well as unproven talents such as Lenzy Pipkins and Josh Hawkins.
At this point, I’d expect the Packers to wait until after the draft plays out before making a move on House. It seems unlikely that another team will make a play for him before then.
If he can agree to an affordable one-year deal, then the Packers should probably re-sign House. The Packers let Ladarius Gunter walk last season, a player somewhat similar to House as a long, far-from-quick, press-man corner. By the time the year approached its end and multiple corners were battling injuries, they undoubtedly could have used Gunter’s presence.
But if Gutekunst drafts, say, two corners in the first five rounds, then I would expect House to leave. Young players need reps, in both practices and games. House is a known and limited commodity.
It will be fascinating to see what Gutekunst decides.