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James Jones: Packers Shouldn't Let S Morgan Burnett "Out That Door"

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James Jones: Packers Shouldn't Let S Morgan Burnett "Out That Door"

-- If you needed someone to vouch for the value that Green Bay Packers safety Morgan Burnett brings to his secondary, you wouldn't have to look further than James Jones, his former teammate.

Jones, who played eight seasons as a wide receiver in Green Bay -- spending five of them with Burnett -- went on NFL Network on Monday to discuss "under the radar" free agents worth keeping an eye on. Rightfully, Burnett was Jones' choice.

"You're talking about a big-time safety that I do not think the Green Bay Packers need to let out that door, but, hey, free agency sometimes, you hit the bank," Jones said.

As of Monday morning, Burnett was one of the nine unrestricted free agents the Packers were allowed to enter negotiations with. Between Monday and Wednesday, teams will shuffle about in what is known as the "legal tampering period."

While the Packers have a handful of contracts to negotiate with, Burnett's is arguably the most important.

After trading away cornerback Damarious Randall to the Cleveland Browns on Friday, the Packers don't house anyone else on their roster that is capable of playing in various positions in the secondary like Burnett does. Depending on how they address their deficiency at cornerback in free agency and the draft, Burnett stands alone as the only versatile staple.

"This guy right here, you're talking about him playing linebacker, playing strong safety, playing slot," Jones said. "They say he's a defensive coordinator on the football field. That's like, the best compliment you can get from any defensive coordinator."

Since 2011, Burnett ranks second in the NFL in total tackles amongst qualifying safeties, tallying 499 just behind the Miami Dolphins' Reshad Jones. 2017 also marked just the second time in the last seven seasons that Burnett hasn't either led or finished second on the team in total tackles.

His ability to crash down in run support and get into the grill of the opposing defense in an effort to clog their running game has been well-documented, both on whichever statistics sheet you look at and on film. That could be an asset the Packers, as it stands, can't afford to lose.

With $20.5 million in cap space, there's a good chance they won't have to. However, they also want to dip extensively into free agency.

"Any team he goes to -- I hope he stays in Green Bay -- they're getting a heck of a football player. You can put him at any position on the field."


Zachary Jacobson is a staff writer/reporter for Cheesehead TV. He's the voice of The Leap on iTunes and can be heard on The Scoop KLGR 1490 AM every Saturday morning. He's also a contributor on the Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter via @ZachAJacobson or contacted through email at [email protected].

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (64) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Since '61's picture

If he doesn't get any outrageous offers in FA maybe the Packers can resign him at a reasonable price. To me that's $8 million AAV (maximum) for 3 seasons. Any more than that let him go. Thanks, Since '61

croatpackfan's picture

I'm with you. There is no need for overpaying anyone... You never know how dices will fall...

4zone's picture

With Randall gone now, we are paper thin at DB at all levels. We no longer have the luxury to play chicken with out best DB. His age will shorten contract offers but may not lower their ammounts. Packers should have signed him long ago to keep him from getting anywhere near FA. A stupid move on our part. Now he will most defiantly cost more than we would have months ago. But we are already down two DBs, we can't afford to go down 3.

lou's picture

Longtime Packer Beat Writer (now with ESPN) Rob Demovsky;

Don't overpay for Morgan Burnett:: At 29, the veteran safety probably still has a few decent years left in him, and his versatility is a plus. Last season, he not only played his natural safety position but also lined up as a slot cornerback and at inside linebacker in the Packers' oft-used "nitro" package. New defensive coordinator Mike Pettine values versatility, which also could work in Burnett's favor. But he's had nagging injury issues in recent years, which makes him a bit of a risk. He's coming off a deal that averaged $6.2 million per seaso

lou's picture

missed last line, He's coming off a deal that averaged $6.2 million per season, bring him back for half of that.

OnWisconsinGoPack's picture

Agreed. Even if we could get him $8M, if we could get Eric Reid at the same, I'd rather go that direction. I've loved Burnett over the years, but he's slowed down and he's just not the same player.

John Kirk's picture

I love James Jones...the guy has a charisma to him but his takes on the Packers are grain of saltish. He's always stumping for his old teammates to get paid. Not very objective.

What is ironic to me, Damarious should've been a S all along. He now will be in Cleveland. We could've kept him and moved him to S to cover for letting Morgan walk. I'm glad DR is gone, but he would've been an inexpensive replacement for Morgan.

Who is it that is making all these position switching decisions? Apparently, they're still on staff.

Razer's picture

Remapping players to play Dom's methods was standard practice for this team. Drafting guys and playing them outside their natural skill ultimately is Ted and Mike. Our secondary, linebackers and D-line was riddled with miscasts. Hopefully, Gutekunst will get talented players and Pettine will play them in a position that fits.

OnWisconsinGoPack's picture

Although he was listed as safety at Arizona State, that wasn't really his position. He was truly more a slot CB. Overall, I don't think he has the size to be a true safety, but in Williams dumb 25 yd deep Safety whatever you call that, taking over for Peppers, he'll fit. Speed and ball skills is all you need for that.

Hawg Hanner's picture

Was Randall that great a tackler, capable of stopping big backs and TE's? And with his issues from last season?

nigrivasilayesrej's picture

9 interceptions & 7.5 sacks in 8 years = JAG. I keep hearing people argue he is the "leader" of the secondary; the same secondary that had two guys basically quit on their team this year (Haha, Randall), & a few years back set historic records for yards given up in a season. IMO Burnett is AJ Hawk at safety, his greatest attribute is calling in plays & staying healthy (although he's missed more time as of late). Definitely not worth more than 5-6 mil per year. Let him go & let's get a true difference maker in Derwin James.

fthisJack's picture

James is the guy i want at 14....he can play safety or corner, has great size and has the speed to go with it. from what i have read, he is a leader of men. go get this guy , Gute!

OnWisconsinGoPack's picture

Agreed 100%.

He can do everything Morgan is claimed to do, but better. Speed and size and experience at both LB, Safety and slot CB. Truly, he's probably what the Browns wanted in Peppers last year but didn't get.

I'll be bummed if he's not there, but as long as Tremaine Edmunds or Roquan fell, I'd be okay.

jh9's picture

He is 29 y.o.. Let's see what his value is on the open market. He may still be affordable. I would like him re-signed, if possible.

GBPDAN1's picture

These next few weeks are going to be interesting!

PS, Bears signed Robinson

Royalty Free GM's picture

It’s also interesting to see who will be Vikings QB. Keenum goes to Broncos.

Cubbygold's picture

I'm glad case signed first. It ups the pressure on the vikes to sign cousins. Option B just got more risky for them. Hooe they panic and make a rediculous offer to case.

OnWisconsinGoPack's picture

They got greedy. Case was a fine starter for them and probably would have only I'm waiting for Bradford and Teddy to sign elsewhere. Here's to Brock Osweiler as the next Vikes QB.

marpag1's picture

"Hey, James Jones! Do you think the Packers should give your good friend and former teammate a boatload of money? What's that......... Yes, you do?"

I mean, why even ask him?

Savage57's picture

Just a step below "Honey, does this make me look fat?" on the predictable response scale.

dobber's picture

I still can't get that answer right...

fthisJack's picture

lucky me...i don't have to deal with trap questions anymore.

marpag1's picture

I just say, "Um...... do you mean fat like a Panda bear, or fat like the sun?"

Bearmeat's picture


PackEyedOptimist's picture

I agree with Jones; the Packers should re-sign Burnett. Many posters lament that the Packers should "sign free agents, because the team needs veterans, not just a bunch of young guys." Burnett IS that veteran. The defense hasn't sent him on blitzes, so of course he doesn't have sacks, and very few strong safeties end up with many interceptions. Burnett HAS been a very good tackler and a very good cover man for RBs and TEs. We had WAY more problems in those areas before Burnett. Based on how C-Dix and Josh Jones looked last year, I feel we practically NEED Burnett. If those two had good seasons it might be different, but Burnett was way more effective than either of them.

fthisJack's picture

i would say yes sign him...but he has been hurt a lot. don't need to dole out big bucks for a guy that is in the training room.

Rossonero's picture

Well, we've backed ourselves into a corner by letting Micah Hyde go last season.

Had we kept him and planned to move him back to his natural safety position like the Bills did, we wouldn't be in this pickle. Josh Jones plays better near the line of scrimmage and looked lost at times playing deep.

Instead, we'll have a gaping hole at safety and a gaping hole at CB with not much cap room. Not a good place for a new GM to be in.

Razer's picture

Good assessment. A miss use of talent and lack of vision particularly when it came to our secondary. Qualifies for "shooting yourself in the foot"

dobber's picture

The question is whether or not you subscribe to the "could it possibly get any worse than last year?" crowd. If so, the faces change and you just roll with it. If not, then you can invest in Tums.

fthisJack's picture

if we had...if,if,if. let's deal with the future instead of looking back with 20/20 vision.

flackcatcher's picture

Nobody thought Hyde would get what he signed for last year. That's the danger of the free agency for successful teams. Signing Burnett would be the smart play, but it comes at a very high price for the Packers. If the market plays out like last year, then Burnett will get a contract like Hyde's and that would be the Packers big FA signing with very little room for anything else. Understandable why the new Packers GM would want to wait and see how the market unfolds.

RCPackerFan's picture

I'd like to see Burnett return. He has become a versatile and valuable as well as a really good leader and veteran player. That being said, it would have to be at a good price. And they did draft Josh Jones last year to essentially replace Burnett this year. Perhaps with Gutekunst running the show now, they will make it a higher priority to resign him.

I just don't see him returning. They have other needs, and safety is still a pretty strong group with Jones and Brice returning.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I, too, would love to see Burnett return to GB. Except:
I don't want to pay him what I hear he'll get;
Hell, I don't want to pay him what I think he's worth.

flackcatcher's picture

The safety group was a mess last year. Like the entire DB group it got exposed after the Viking game. Both Brice and Evans are coming off major injuries, and Brice flat out failed as a starter last year. I would not be surprised if the Packers cut both. While the Packers have other needs, the DB group is in need of a complete rebuild. (With the Packers luck, the DB drafted or sign will step out on the field on first day, and promptly pull up with a groin injury 0:)

Donster's picture

Anyone hear of any news reports about Burnett talking with any other teams yet? I know it is very early, but if he doesn't get much interest, maybe he can be signed for much less than he expects.

dobber's picture

I've seen very little on defensive players nailing down offers at all, so far. Maybe that's an indictment of the defensive players available, or maybe it's the need teams feel to be explosive offensively.

carlos's picture

In a new scheme he may be utilized much better than in the past. He is versatile which adds to his value. James Jones knows what he’s talking about, and I realize they probably are friends, but being an analyst now he doesn’t want to lose any credibility.

EdsLaces's picture

He won't matter when it's Brices show back there !

Michael Hughes's picture

The problem is we spend 9m then combined with signing rookie class along and the 6m or so you need as working capital for the season that pretty much uses up the budget. Maybe a few million to sign someone like rodgers as backup TE.

Leaving us with no corners or starting tight ends as well as pass rush problems.

The big issue with FA is where we come up with the cap space. I am not a fan of backloading everything creating problems for next year.

Reluctantly I am becoming more and more in favour of cleaning up the cap, front loading a rodgers deal and whilst not tanking the year, accept 2018 probably isnt our year.

Savage57's picture

Interesting idea. Swallow those two tablespoons of Ted's Player Acquisition Methods Tonic every week for a season and reboot for 2019 without all the contract dead weight and vulture food on the roster.

fthisJack's picture

2018 could be our year but BK would definitely need to nail this draft.

dobber's picture

BK = Burger King?

...I could go for a big bacon king right about now.

stockholder's picture

I prefer In and OUT.

stockholder's picture

Why be cagey about Burnett. Let him walk. He's not a All-pro. Often injured. And was a product of Capers. We drafted Jones. Let's use him. It's just not a good Idea to over-pay the position of safety. Yes, he has been a good team player. But we weren't good with him. The defense must shed the old thinking, and realize what their doing. We will be just as happy with Jones, and even a draftee. Then cutting him in two years because of cap space.

dobber's picture

"And was a product of Capers."

This is the catch-22 isn't it? So many people saying that Capers was holding this defense back, that the players were better than what we were seeing on the field over the last couple years. Well, if so, the coaching change all by itself can pay dividends with the same guys. It might have to. I'm not by any means advocating that the Packers stand pat. Far from it. But if early signs are telling, it looks like impact help on the defensive side of the ball via FA isn't coming.

stockholder's picture

It's time Gute brings in his own players. They must of had a plan when they traded Randall. Coaching can only do so much. A player must take that next step to being the best at his position. You can't sit on your can and expect reputation to do all. Didn't we make enough mistakes with Raji. When a player can no longer play to all -pro level , it's time to go cheaper, for the same production. I'm looking at Burnett the same way many people are looking at Cobb and Nelson. But unlike the Wr position. Jones and Brice are ready to contribute more. Burnett is not going to contribute as much as his salary would suggest he should.

Savage57's picture

Interesting idea. Swallow those two tablespoons of Ted's Player Acquisition Methods Tonic every week for a season and reboot for 2019 without all the contract dead weight and vulture food on the roster.

Savage57's picture

Someone doesn't know how to use the 'reply' feature.

Since '61's picture

It's OK Savage, you still make great points with your posts. You can work on technique later. Thanks, Since '61

Ryan Graham's picture

I understand the need to address positional needs. they are quite clear - corner, slot corner, safety, edge rusher, tight end, interior offensive line. The fact of the matter is at this point no one will be signed today unless bloated contracts are negotiated. If they sign a guy or two the team needs to be under the cap by the start of the new league year, tomorrow.

I believe BG has a plan...but so far he has only addressed the back up QB position by hindering the corner position and some may argue the potential for Randall to move (back) to safety. Other than that it's been quiet, but it's early. I have a feeling today will be more of the same.

They also accumulated the highest picks in the 4th and 5th round. This tells me BG wants to leverage in the trade market rather the free agency market. The bottom line is the ceiling is low in free agency until contracts are restructured or cuts are made, unless BG continues to trade quantity for quality. That is at least for today and tomorrow unless contract negotiations have been done in the shadows of 1265 Lombardi, which would oppose what BG said regarding the way he conducted business.

dobber's picture

"I believe BG has a plan....Other than that it's been quiet, but it's early. I have a feeling today will be more of the same."

If anything, the plan needs to be flexible. There are 31 other teams out there trying to woo the players in the same pool the Packers are working on. Just because the Packers really like or want a guy, it doesn't mean that they even want to come to GB. If you're sold on only one or two guys, then you're more likely to break your bank on them. If someone else signs a guy you really like, you rely on your scouting departments to identify other good fits. I'm not saying they shouldn't aggressively pursue players they really like, but just because you covet someone doesn't mean you're going to get them...or should get them.

"The bottom line is the ceiling is low in free agency until contracts are restructured or cuts are made, unless BG continues to trade quantity for quality."

I really don't think many of those dominoes are going to fall until the Packers are pressed. Until the Packers sign a WR, I don't think they cut a WR. Until they get help in the front 7, I don't think Matthews will see any pressure. CB creates a different kind of issue, but until they need more cap space, I don't see Gutekunst letting anyone least, not until after the draft.

Ryan Graham's picture

Dobber, to be clear I'm not saying I'm disappointed they havent landed the Watkins or Robinson deal. In fact, even if Russ Ball and BG cleared the cap space and came to terms with one of those guys it would have been the right move. You're a smart guy you know how free agency works - one domino falls at a position the rest start to follow suit. Today I see QBs continue to fly around as it has begun.

My main point was to bring to light the fact that cap space is not their strong point right now. Yes, contracts can be restructured but there hasn't been a wiff of anything toward that motion. I dont foresee thast happening within the next 24 hours, so they have to do what they can to stay under the cap.Be that as it may, that will handcuff what BG and Ball can do in free agency for the time being.

Where their strength lies is in their draft picks and the flexibility they have in trading up. I can definitely see a scenario where, for example, Cobb is packaged with one of those picks or even one of their 3rd round picks to get a controlled player or to move into the first round for a second pick.

Razer's picture

Will we be facing the same dilemma next year when Clinton Dix comes up for renewal? Seem like we are in this position all too often - paying top dollar for adequate players. At 29 Burnett is good and has some gas left in the tank but is he worth FA top dollar? Was Nick Perry worth his contract? Damarious Randall would have been another costly re-up. Unless the guy has distinguished himself, I would let them test the open market.

We won't have this problem if we draft and develop better. The decisions will be more self-evident.

dobber's picture

The only advantage with Randall was that he has this year on his rookie deal and then the 5th year option to prove that he was worth the next contract. HHCD is on the clock this year. Hopefully Pettine can bring out the best in him...and if not him, then someone else.

Ryan Graham's picture

stockholder ^^^

fthisJack's picture

solution to losing Burnett....draft Derwin James. young,fast,big,cheap difference maker in the secondary that may also light a fire under HAHA azz! go get him!

stockholder's picture

I like James. Just can't draft him yet. Either a cb gets signed. Or we have to draft a CB. I think this site should poll this. Ward,Jackson,Smith, James,Vita, [email protected]

Oz40's picture

It sure looks like the same old Packers front office. All talk and then watch all the free agents walk to other teams. Robinson to the Bears. Watkins to the Chiefs. Our aging and slow wide outs should improve our draft number next year, while making at least 9.5 million cap hit per. As in down due to a poor record. How disappointing.

Ryan Graham's picture

I'm a big believer in Jackson as a player but they need veteran leadership somewhere...a proven winner. If they can get a veteran there instead great. If not Jackson is my guy

stockholder's picture

He was 1 year. slipping a bit and will slow down. I like Ward more. When you look at these players at 14. Look for the explosion, (Look at the vert. JUMP. ) Jacksons is better than Landry,davenport,vea. The playmakers can jump!!

John Kirk's picture

The only difference in Brian vs. Ted is Brian will make sure everyone knows we're "trying". Ted and staff made the same "preliminary" phone calls but we just never heard about it because Ted didn't care.

I wish we could hear how competitive our offers were? I think Brian's comfort zone likely isn't much different than Ted's.

stockholder's picture

Burton Te just signed with the bears. Robinson WR was also signed by the bears. $$$$$

4thand1's picture

After SB LII, I think defensive players stock just went down. With today's rules a great offense will carve up almost any defense.

John Kirk's picture

You're probably right...this is a copycat league. Jax at Pit didn't help the idea of defense winning anything, either.

The star offensive guys are gone now. We'll maybe rummage for a deal at the left over garage sale here in a few weeks, but that's not good enough. I guess it's the price you have to pay for readying to pay your QB 30 million guaranteed.

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