Priority number one for the Green Bay Packers this offseason? Fix the pass rush.
The encouraging part of the 2018 season was that the Packers defense was able to get sacks despite a lack of production from the edge rushers not named Kyler Fackrell (Green Bay was tied for eighth in the league with sacks, Fackrell had 10.5).
The New England Patriots defeated the Los Angeles Rams in the Super Bowl not because of their Hall-of-Fame quarterback, but because of their defense.
The Packers need to be able to win games with defense, and fixing the pass rush will help achieve that.
Before deciding who to draft or sign in free agency, Packers GM Brian Gutekunst has a few decisions to make with the current roster.
Should Nick Perry be brought back in 2019? Perry actually still has three years left on his contract but the Packers could make a small cap saving by releasing him.
Perry has now been in the league for seven years and turns 29 this offseason. The Packers know what they have in their former first-round pick.
When fully healthy we’ve seen him at his best. Perry was excellent in 2016, putting up a career-best 11 sacks to earn a multi-year contract. But he only has 21 sacks combined in the other six seasons, averaging just 3.5 sacks a year if you take out 2016.
Perry has also never played a full season. Even in his career-best 2016 season when he stayed relatively healthy, he still missed two games. And since signing a new deal in 2017 Perry has missed 11 of a possible 32 regular season contests.
Andrew Herman of Cheesehead TV gave a great in-depth breakdown of the options the Packers have with Perry’s contract, and I highly recommend you check it out.
Herman concluded that the best option is to cut Perry this offseason:
"“The unfortunate truth is that Green Bay has to pay that $11.1 million bonus no matter what. The fortunate truth is they don’t have to pay him a dime of the other $31.7+ million if they take their medicine now and move on from the bad contract. $11.1 million is never easy to swallow, but it’s ultimately the best option of the four.”"
Perry has only put up double-digit sacks once and didn’t play well this past season. It’s a concern, and the Packers should move on.
What about Clay Matthews, who is set to hit free agency this offseason? The good news here is that the Packers have no salary cap concerns as Matthews is a free agent.
But like Perry, Matthews didn’t make a big enough impact in 2018. The good news is he played all 16 games, the bad news is that he finished with a career-low 3.5 sacks.
Unless Brian Gutekunst believes Matthews can make an impact at inside linebacker, the Packers should move on from both players this offseason.