After ten years of wearing the green and gold, edge rusher Clay Matthews signed on with the Rams, for $9.25 million over two years. Clay started strong, but suffered a broken jaw (requiring surgery) in Week 5. Despite the injury, he started 13 games on the year, and recorded 37 tackles, 8 sacks, 11 QB hits, 3 passes defended, and 2 forced fumbles. Clay, who is now 33, is due back for a second year in L.A. in 2020.
Mike Daniels had an injury-plagued first year with the Lions. He played in only nine games, and started in two. In that time, he accumulated 10 tackles, two QB hits, and one sack. Daniels, who’s now 30, had signed a 1-year $9.1 million deal with the Lions.
Bashaud Breeland, who spent part of 2018 with Green Bay, signed a 1-year deal in 2019 with the Chiefs. In starting all but one game, he had 48 tackles, 2 interceptions, 2 fumble recoveries, and 1 QB hit.
After being released by Green Bay early in the season, Josh Jones was signed to the Cowboys’ practice squad. He was promoted to the active roster in late November, but was waived by them on December 28. He’s available.
It seems long ago, but OLB Reggie Gilbert played in all 16 Packers games in 2018, including on special teams. Still, he accounted for 38 tackles, 8 QB hits 2 passes defended, and even 2.5 sacks. Just before last season, Green Bay traded him to Tennessee for a seventh round draft pick. Reggie started five games for the Titans, and he recorded 18 tackles 3 QB hits and one sack. He should soon become a free agent.
ILB Jake Ryan, a promising fourth round selection by the Packers in 2015, was a starter alongside Blake Martinez for most of his three years here. Then he was waylaid by injuries. In training camp in 2018 he suffered a torn ACL, and did not play for the Packers again. He started the 2019 season on the Jaguars’ reserve/non-football injury list. He was activated at the end of November, but was put back on injured reserve on December 10.
Due to a knee injury, the Packers placed OLB Nick Perry, a 7-year veteran, on injured reserve in November 2018. He was released by the team on March 12, 2019, and has not caught on elsewhere in the NFL.
Cornerback Damarious Randall started in 11 games for the Browns in his second year there. He had 61 tackles, 6 passes defended, 3 QB hits, 2.5 sacks, but no interceptions (after having 8 in three years with Green Bay). I believe he signed a 1-year deal, at just over $9 million in 2019, and that he is about to become a free agent.
After leaving Green Bay after the 2017 season, safety Morgan Burnett had a decent year in Pittsburgh in 2018. He requested his release from the Steelers, however, and was picked up by the Browns, signing a 2-year contract for $7.5 million in 2019. In just 8 games there this past year he had 40 tackles an interception, 2 passes defended, and 1 QB hit. He then tore his Achilles, causing him to miss the last half of the season.
Safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix played seven games for Green Bay in 2018, then finished out the year with the Redskins. In 2019, he signed on with the Bears. He started all 16 games, made 78 tackles, had 5 passes defended, 2 interceptions, and 2 fumble recoveries. The deal with Chicago was for 1 year and for $5.5 million, so he might well become a free agent in 2020.
After leaving the Packers after the 2016 season, defensive tackle Mike Pennel caught on with the Jets in 2017 and 2018, during which time he started a total of 10 games. He then signed on with the Patriots but was released shortly thereafter. On October 19, the Chiefs signed Pennel, who played in their remaining 8 regular season games. Though not a starter, he registered 24 tackles, 2 QB hits, and a sack – including 6 tackles in the Chiefs’ final regular season game, a 31-21 win over the Chargers. The 330-pounder, still only 28, figures to be a free agent in 2020.
Safety Micah Hyde just had his third successful year in Buffalo. He had 72 tackles, 2 passes defended, one interception and one fumble recovery in 2019. Micah has missed just one game in his time with the Bills. He was a second-team All-Pro there in 2017.
OLB Jayrone Elliott played for the Packers from 2014 through 2016. After failing to gain traction with the Cowboys, Saints, and Dolphins, he was on-again-off again with the Steelers for much of 2019, with his latest release being in mid-November.
After Green Bay failed to re-sign him after the 2015 season, cornerback Casey Hayward has spent the last four seasons with the Chargers in Southern California. Limited to 12 games in 2019, Casey recorded 24 tackles, two interceptions and 7 passes defended – this was a far cry from the 20 PDs he had in 2016, and the 22 in 2017. Hayward turned 30 in December.
Also of note for Randall: had one of the dirtiest hits you will ever see, when he earholed a Steeler receiver in the infamous Mason Rudolph-Myles Garrett exchange game. It was so bad the Steeler receiver was bleeding out of his ear. And he was benched in the rematch game to avoid any retaliation from the Steelers
Surprisingly astute GMsmanship- really the only misfire was not resigning Hyde. Hayward is good but was injury plagued with GBP so not resigning made sense at the time. I thought it would have been smart to keep Daniels through the duration of his contract…..but wrong again. Detroit didn’t get much for their money. Mathews played OK but I like our current rushers better production-wise and age-wise. Too bad Nick Perry was included as that triggered a PTSD attack- no one signed him after his release. Amazing. TT really muffed that, both in being proactive acquiring talent at that position and then re-upping too much because he had no leverage. It’s time for Gutey to start reviewing WR and TE college tape so we can upgrade in the draft; defense is going to have to proceed with what they have.