In the National Football League, we see it all the time. A player in the final-year of his contract with has a breakout season, that sets him up to get paid in the off-season.
Green Bay Packers linebacker Nick Perry is one of the many NFL players that have enjoyed a breakout season during the 2016 regular season, and will surely be rewarded for it this spring.
The 26-year-old Perry, who will turn 27 when football is not on television this off-season, posted career highs in tackles, sacks, interceptions, pass deflections, and tackles for a loss of yardage, playing alongside Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers, Blake Martinez, Jake Ryan, Joe Thomas, and others in Green Bay’s linebackers crops.
Perry, who was a 2012 first round draft pick by the Packers ahead of defenders Harrison Smith, Janoris Jenkins, Mychal Kendricks, Bobby Wagner, Lavonte David, and others had 11.0 sacks in the regular season after combing for a total of 12.5 sacks in his previous four seasons.
Due to Perry’s past underwhelming seasons, the Packers declined to pick up their fifth-year option on Perry’s contract, which allowed him to become an unrestricted free agent following the 2015 season. He would re-up with the Packers on a one-year, $5 million deal for the 2016 season, but now he figures to land a multi-year deal.
With Peppers‘ contract expiring after this season, it’s likely that the Packers will throw money Perry’s way to convince him to stay with the Packers, but when you rank 8th in the NFL in sacks, there is going to be a lot of interest from outside teams in you.
Atlanta Falcons linebacker Vic Beasley led the league in sacks in 2016 with 15.5 after he struggled in his rookie season in 2015, and was then followed by Von Miller, Lorenzo Alexander, Markus Golden, Danielle Hunter, Cliff Avril, and Cameron Wake as the only players with more sacks in 2016 than Perry.
Four other players tied with Perry for the 8th most sacks in the league, and those were Erik Walden, Ryan Kerrigan, Chandler Jones, and Khalil Mack. Jones, who is also an impending free agent this off-season, is worth up to a six-year, $93 million investment, per Spotrac.com. Perry and Jones had very comparable seasons when you break it down, with Jones of course having the advantage in financial talks due to past performances.
Per Pro Football Focus, in-addition to getting 47 total quarterback pressures this season, Perry also had 37 defensive stops, placing him 9th in the entire NFL for the most among edge defenders. It is also important to note that Perry played less snaps than every player ahead of him, largely due to the fact that Perry has missed time this year with a hand injury.
For the first time in his career, Perry has also cracked NFL.com’s list of the top 25 free agents at number 21. It is stereotypical to see players like Perry that are coming off a year like this get a nice multi-year deal worth about $10 million a year, but with Perry’s stock rising, it wouldn’t be surprising to see that money jump up.
The 2017 off-season should be an interesting off-season for the Packers, with Eddie Lacy, T.J. Lang, Jared Cook, and Micah Hyde all set to join Perry in the free agent pool. We shall see if Perry will be moving on elsewhere, or if he will stay with the only NFL franchise he’s known so far.
Right now, Green Bay is projected to have $36.9 million in cap space to use in free agency this spring, and Lang will likely be Green Bay’s main priority before the attention switches to Perry, than Hyde, Cook, and Lacy.
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