Safety Morgan Burnett signed a relatively modest three-year contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers on Wednesday. The deal will pay him $14.5 million, an average of $4.8 million per season.
Could the Green Bay Packers have afforded that? Yes, they could have. They reportedly have $20 million in cap space.
However, like we’ve seen with other veteran free agents — notably Casey Hayward and Micah Hyde — in the past, the Packers didn’t bother to make Burnett an offer.
From Bob McGinn: The Packers are $20.33 million under the salary cap, but Green Bay never entered the bidding for Burnett, and he became the first safety in this year’s free agent class to get a multi-year deal.
Clearly, the Packers decided early on they weren’t bringing Burnett back. There appear to be two primary reasons for that.
First, Burnett hasn’t played a full 16 games since 2012. He missed four in 2017. Second, it appears the Packers are ready to turn the position over to Josh Jones, who they drafted in the second round in 2017. Kentrell Brice and Marwin Evans will likely also find roles, as long as they’re healthy.
There are also veteran options still available on the free agent market, if the Packers are interested in adding to the group. One name that surfaced immediately after Burnett signed was former 49ers safety Eric Reid.
Reid was a Pro Bowler in 2013. In 2017, he had 67 tackles, two interceptions and four passes defended in 13 games. What Reid is most known for, however, is being the other guy who first sat with Colin Kaepernick for the national anthem.
He may find himself in the same boat as Kaepernick — not getting signed — because of it.