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Cory's Corner: Come Back Morgan Burnett

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Cory's Corner: Come Back Morgan Burnett

I’m going to start by saying that I thought Morgan Burnett should’ve stayed in Green Bay. The Packers should’ve swallowed hard and made Burnett the veteran presence that has been sorely needed in the back end of the defense. 

However, the Packers didn’t even bother matching the Steelers’ three-year $14.35 million deal last March.

Burnett went to Pittsburgh. But after playing just 39 of his 390 non special teams snaps at safety, Burnett now wants out of Pittsburgh — and rightfully so. Burnett is a versatile weapon that the Steelers liked to use as a dime linebacker, heck they even lined up at defensive line for 19 snaps. 

The Packers failed to sign Burnett last year, but now it’s time for a mulligan. Green Bay desperately needs a veteran presence on the back end because, well, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is no longer employed by the professional team in Green Bay and Josh Jones still hasn’t figured it out after his sophomore season last year. 

The argument against Burnett is well documented. He hasn’t played a full 16-game season since 2012 and he only played in 11 games last year. But unlike Nick Perry and Clay Matthews, who also have trouble staying on the field, at least Burnett produces when he does play. He only had one missed tackle last year and three in 2017. There’s a reason the Steelers put him close to the line of scrimmage — because he’s one of the most surefire tacklers out there.

Last year, Burnett dealt with hamstring and groin injuries as 2018 became the fourth straight year that he has dealt with soft tissue problems. Now many say that signing Burnett with a history like that is asking for trouble. That’s fair, but also remember that the Packers can now get the 30-year-old on a discount and perhaps even a prove-it deal. 

That will give him incentive not to just produce but to also stay on the field. If the Packers sign him to a one-year deal with an option for a second, Burnett is going to do everything he can to make sure he gets snaps. 

Another option might be Earl Thomas, but he is coming off a broken left leg that ended his season. Not only that, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the six-time Pro Bowler gets into a bidding war with at least two teams. 

Burnett’s stock is low. He knows he can still play his true position, which is why he wants out of Pittsburgh. That would push Tramon Williams rightfully back to corner and for the time being it would mean that defensive coordinator Mike Pettine wouldn’t be plugging a hole with Scotch tape. 

Burnett wouldn’t solve all of the Packers’ problems on defense, but at least he wouldn’t be afraid or unwilling to make a tackle. 


Cory Jennerjohn is a graduate from UW-Oshkosh and has been in sports media for over 15 years. He was a co-host on "Clubhouse Live" and has also done various radio and TV work as well. He has written for newspapers, magazines and websites. He currently is a columnist for CHTV and also does various podcasts. He recently earned his Masters degree from the University of Iowa. He can be found on Twitter: @Coryjennerjohn

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (59) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Irish_Cheesehead's picture

There are better options out there on the FA market, but if they could bring him in cheap he would provide good leadership for the young guys we will no doubt draft. Can’t count on Burnett to stay on the field for a full season at this point in his career. He’d be an upgrade over Jones, though.

TheBigCheeze's picture

....getting so sick and tired of people talking about "leadership".....what a crock....just get out there and do your damn job!!!

Coach JV's picture

Nah... Burnett is done in GB.

I like the Earl Thomas idea. And there are other FA's who are better too. We have cap room this year... I think Gute will find one or draft one.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

99% chance Thomas is a Cowboy. He's wanted it his whole life since he's a Texas guy.

Rak47's picture

Thomas is 30 y/o and coming off two broken legs in 3 years. So I'm not sure signing him for the type of money he wants is a good idea. Signing Burnett who's around the same age for much less would provide a strong veteran stopgap for a year who could contribute something similar to what Tramon did this year while adding depth and insurance.

EddieLeeIvory's picture

Soft tissue injuries all the time.

Doesn't matter if a guy's making $9m, $6m, or $2m. If a player is always on the sideline in street clothes, he ain't helping the team.

kevgk's picture

$2m for 10 games isnt bad, especially if he is used in rotation and we don't force rookies on the field early. Soft tissues also heal throughout the year so there is a good chance he misses some middle games and becomes available in some capacity for the playoffs. Its different than consisten fractures that puts someone on IR every year.

Coldworld's picture

Where would Burnett play? He doesn’t want to be an ILB, and we should have younger options there. For that position, i’d say no thanks. I also think his heavy use in that role contributed to his injuries.

Where it gets interesting is if he were to play true SS. He used to be our play caller. He was never a true ball hawk or a game changer in terms of splash plays, but he knew where to be, where others should be and he would tackle. In my view he would be a definite upgrade and compliment Williams. Right now, those would be our starting safeties. In the event of acquisition, he still provides depth and package play better than we had last year.

I started off thinking nooooo to this one, but as a true safety, this makes a lot of sense.

cuervo's picture

NO, NO,NO. There are better options than bringing back a below average player that can't stay on the field.

Bearmeat's picture

What we need is a centerfielder at FS. Burnett was average at best at that when he was 25, and he's been hurt a majority of the last two years. The only thing he can do at a high level now is play as a chase and blitz WILB, which he just said he doesn't want to do. Not to mention that while he has asked for a release, PIT currently owns his rights for another 2 years.

Hard pass.

carlos's picture

I’m agreeing there’s better options, but always appreciated his time in Green Bay. Petite could use someone like Burnett with his versatility. I do like to go younger, but veterans presence in a locker room or on the field is a positive. I would love the “ Honey Badger”. A real play maker.

Ezra's Hotdog's picture

I thought soon to be 36 year old Tramon Williams was the veteran presence. How many do we need? If anything maybe Tramon can pass on his tricks to staying healthy to these guys. Are you listening Kevin King? I would like the " Honey Badger" in a Packer uniform as well.

Packer Dave's picture

Bearmeat nailed it.

We need coverage skills on the backend more than anything.

carlos's picture

Earl Thomas works for me also. Can’t have enough ball hawks. Need way more turnovers on this defense. I feel they’re going to come.

Lare's picture

Not sure why some people are always so fired up to bring back players the Packers already released. Especially someone like Morgan Burnett who wasn't a consistent performer when he was with the team last time. I think the Packers can get someone who is younger and better than Morgan Burnett at safety.

Now if you're talking Micah Hyde I'm with you.

Guam's picture

Would love to see Gute sign a veteran free agent safety. Burnett wouldn't be my first choice (prefer Thomas or Mathieu) since it would likely take a draft choice to get him from Pittsburgh but he might be an option if the draft choice is a 6th or 7th rounder. At least Burnett used to get everyone lined up in the right place pre-snap which is more than I can say about our current safeties.

carlos's picture

Miss Hyde. A good player and team guy. Smart also.

Old School's picture

Yes, but he fell victim to the dual false narratives of "speed" and "playmaker". I argued that a smart, available, good-tackling, durable guy was worth keeping but didn't get a lot of agreement at the time.

Since '61's picture

First of all Burnett is still under contract with the Steelers as far as I know. To trade for him would take draft capital and cap space. I would just sign an FA.

The defense needs to get more athletic and faster, ala Alexander, rather than older and slower. We also desperately need guys who can stay on the field.

If the Steelers chuck Burnett then I would consider him for the right price on a one year price it deal, but only under those circumstances. Thanks, Since '61

The TKstinator's picture

Way to work that “chuck” in there!

Skip greenBayless's picture

At this point it's chronic with Since 61'. This is turning into an Aaron Rodgers photo bomb at this point. I think Since 61's is sitting back and laughing. When you think about it, who doesn't like to chuck if they had the opportunity to do so. It's a great action word chuck.


The TKstinator's picture

Sign me up for the chuck wagon.

LeotisHarris's picture

TK, I think you're the CHTV veteran presence on the back end. I know that's not going to get you free coffee at Kwik Trip, but it's something, right?

The TKstinator's picture

Thank you. I know I am a beggar, not a chooser.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I think TK is more on the flip side. Possibly that should be past tense.

LeotisHarris's picture

Possibly in your world, Tgr, but in mine TK will always be given the opportunity to stack successes.

The TKstinator's picture

Ha! Gotta hit those targets, amigo. Warrior’s path.

Skip greenBayless's picture

Chuck that!! No way!! We're a young team other than Rodgers. Morgan is the past. The Packers aren't that desperate. They have other options.


Ezra's Hotdog's picture

I agree, he could be on to something though. If Burnett gets cut loose maybe Chucky will pick him up. I hope this season starts of better than last years ended. I felt like "chucking" the remote at my tv after that embarrassing loss to Detroit..

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Burnett's best position is the one he doesn't want to play. If that's the case and he gets released, would he want to return to GB? He is not interchangeable with the FS.

There are better options that might be cheaper out there.

Rossonero's picture

In 2017, Bleacher Report rated Burnett as the 22nd best strong safety out of 54:

Coverage: 17/25
Recovery: 13/20
Slot Performance: 14/20
Tackling: 20/25
Position Value: 8/10
Overall Grade: 72/100

Considering how god awful our safety play was, we'd be fools to not at least consider a 1 year, incentive laden deal. We'd obviously have to play him at his desired position though and not ILB.

Now, I will admit that Burnett's last season here was under Capers, where he was heavily used in the Nitro package, something I'm not sure Pettine even uses anymore.

While he is still under contract, I could see him getting released. He has a $6.4M cap number in 2019. If cut before June 1, it's $2.8M in dead money and $3.6M cap savings.

But after June 1st, it's even better: only $1.4M in dead money and $5M cap savings. If they do cut him, it'll be after June 1, not now.

However, so much has changed in the front office and coaching staff that I doubt Burnett will be back.

Old School's picture

Before he left, Burnett was a mainstay of a consistently poor secondary.

Lare's picture

Yes, and they seem to have solved most of the communication issues they experienced when he was here. Well, except when Brice is in there.

Old School's picture

And the reason Brice is in there is because he's the best guy we have. We get rid of Burnett, and Dix, and Whithead. Brice remains. We draft guys like Jones, but Brice remains the starter because he's better at this point.

Brice is still a young guy, and he still has a good combination of size and speed. He's one of our leading tacklers, and he's plays a lot of snaps for us on defense. Now me, I would assume this means that Pettine likes him on the field.

Brice has made some high profile errors, but he's also played a lot of good football for us. And he'll continue to play good football for us, regardless of what we do this offseason.

Me, personally, I'd move Jackson to safety and have him compete with Jones and Brice. I'd draft a safety somewhere in the Top 50 and back him up with Campbell and move Tramon back to corner.

But I'm just getting tired of all the sniping at a guy who has played his guts out for us.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I have no problem with Brice competing to be the #5 safety.

Bert's picture

We do need to upgrade at safety but we also need to do better than Burnett. He just doesn't offer that much.

PeteK's picture

Thomas on a multi year contract 3 yrs 30 mill, 10-15 guaranteed, he was having a great year until injury. If he doesn't go for it, let youth be served in the draft.Please, no more older injury prone players.

Old School's picture

Yeah, and if he doesn't have a great year, we can just void the deal and eat the dead money. I mean, that IS the way people want to do business, isn't it?

Tarynfor12's picture

I thought the mantra was New Culture...why are we discussing bringing back or keeping any player(s) that helped in various ways, who have helped dig the hole this team is in today.

The veteran leadership reason is old bs. This new culture needs to have leaders earn their place and not given it because they've played longer.

Name familiarity or prior play time with the Packers is not an automatic fit but simply a fit of assumed comfort for player and those who see it that way.

Moving forward not backwards.

The TKstinator's picture

You had me at “mantra”.

nostradanus's picture

Of the Packers can exercise patience there will be plenty of capable free-agent safeties available at bargain prices in the summer when teams cut bait.

Rewards come to the patient ones

That is all....

The TKstinator's picture

Is that all?

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

All that is.

The TKstinator's picture

It is what it is, except on the rare occasions that it’s not.

Old School's picture

We could move Jackson to safety to compete with Jones and Brice. Draft a FS. Move Tramon back to corner.

Flow49's picture

Earl Thomas would be great but he wants to go back to Texas. If the Cowboys are remotely close to our offer he’s wearing a Star next season. Which means we’d over pay for a 30 year old safety. Burnett on a friendly one year deal could be a good move.

Lphill's picture

Samir Adderley

Nick Perry's picture

AND Landon Collins...Or Joyner, Mathieu, or even Tre Boston. Problem at Safety solved...On to the right side of the O-Line...

Tundraboy's picture

Yes NP,Yes!!! Best post of the year.

cheesehead1's picture

Don’t bring him back, he had his time here, plus he can’t stay on the field. We have too many that are constantly injured, King especially comes to mind. Hope King puts in a great offseason to prove himself.

Oppy's picture

There is no connection between Burnett and the current defensive scheme being employed.

In other words, why would Burnett back to GB make any more sense than any other veteran safety currently employed by any other NFL team?

Spoiler alert: It doesn't.

I love Morgan Burnett, he seems like a good man and I always enjoyed his demeanor in interviews. Decent safety. Rep'd GB quite well. Wish him the best in all things. Absolutely no reason to even fathom bringing him back here. None.

The TKstinator's picture

AND, Burks has his uni # now.

Tundraboy's picture

Maybe another time in the past. But no more "if he can stay healthy he could..... "players . It's a new age, no more looking back, only forward.

splitpea1's picture

No! The Packers need to move forward with the roster, not backwards.
And like others have already said, there's much more of a need for a centerfielder type of safety, not a dime linebacker (or whatever).

PAPackerbacker's picture

When I first heard Burnett wanted out of Pittsburgh I just thought it was because of all the bad blood between the top players there and had nothing to do with anything else. The though it might be a chance for him to come back to GB had crossed my mind. But after reading some of the comments here I agree it would be wise to look elsewhere in FA and find more talent at the position. And maybe get a good steal in the draft in the mid rounds. Time for the new coaches to make some quality decisions.

ILPackerBacker's picture

Been borderline on whether these were worth the time to read, not anymore. MB going was a blessing.

Brice failed to make plays repeatedly and cost the packers a couple of games.

BUT at least he was in position to make the plays. He was IN POSITION but failed. MB was never in position as a S which is why he PLAYED LB his last year in GB. He has never been anything but a run playing S

Do you even know how many career picks he has?

DD's picture

Need a veteran who is more healthy then Burnett I feel. We can do better.

Doug Niemczynski's picture

No to M Burnett. GB has moved on.

scullyitsme's picture

Earl Thomas please, Landon Collins as my consolation prize.

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