Green Bay Packers’ safety Atari Bigby has given no indication he plans on signing his restricted free agent tender and the longer he stays away from Green Bay, the less likely he is to retain his starting spot.
The Packers drafted safety Morgan Burnett in the third round of this year’s draft, trading up to nab the Georgia Tech product.
There were whispers the Packers were dissatisfied with Bigby’s play last season. When you look at the stats, Bigby was indeed pretty average. In 2009, Bigby totaled 49 tackles and four interceptions in 13 games. While the four interceptions are solid, Bigby would hardly be confused with a playmaker and in fact, was average at best in coverage.
Add to that Bigby’s penchant for getting injured and you can see why the team grabbed Burnett. Bigby has missed 12 games the past two seasons, which has the Packers looking for depth at the position, if not a replacement.
Bigby, however, doesn’t see the writing on the wall. There have been rumors he may hold out in search of a long-term contract.
With every day Bigby isn’t in Green Bay, Burnett gets a chance to learn the defense, demonstrate his ability and take Bigby’s starting spot.
Thus far, Packers’ coach Mike McCarthy likes what he sees from Burnett.
“He’s learning; he’s growing,” McCarthy said. “I do like his assertiveness, particularly in his communication skills, and that’s very important at the safety position. Athletically, he’s a young man with a bright future. You can just see the athletic ability, both on special teams and defense. He’s still learning the defense, and he’s doing a good job of that.”
Certainly, Bigby can wise up, sign his tender and report in time for training camp. If he doesn’t, there are very few reasons the Packers shouldn’t open the season with Burnett as the starter.
In addition to what we know about Bigby, Burnett is only going to get better the more he plays. Bigby is giving him ample opportunity to do that right now.