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Nick Perry Remains Unsigned Days Before Training Camp

Nick Perry has become a pretty polarizing figure in Green Bay. He had a career season in 2016 which earned him a mega contract, and then he’s underperformed ever since. What’s more? He’s never actually been able to play a full 16-game season.

The team parted ways with Perry in March, shortly after acquiring Preston Smith and Za’Darius Smith in free agency. 

The outside linebackers room looks much different entering 2019 than it did in 2018. Clay Matthews and Perry are no longer on the team, and the Packers used their first pick of the 2019 NFL Draft to bring in athletic freak Rashan Gary out of Michigan.

The unit of Matthews, Perry, Kyler Fackrell, and Reggie Gilbert has transformed into Smith, Smith, Gary, and Fackrell as the starting four edge rushers for Green Bay.

With that in mind, however, would the Packers be opposed to bringing Perry back on a cheap, incentive-laden contract? It would have to be cheap, given the Packers are still paying $11 million in dead cap space after cutting him in March. 

If you ask fans, there are pretty mixed reviews on a possible reunion in Titletown. Some fans are all for Perry’s run-stopping abilities, and others wouldn’t touch a potential return with a 10-foot club (see what I did there?). 

That impressive, contract-defining 2016 season was Perry’s best year by a landslide. He started in 12 games, had one interception with four passes defensed, and tallied 11 sacks with a whopping 16 quarterback hits. 

At the time, Perry was one of the best free agent outside linebackers on the market, and it made sense for Green Bay to bring him back. If you looked at who some of the other options were, Perry was pretty top-tier that year. 

In 2017, after signing his $59 million contract, Perry started in 11 games for Green Bay, had one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, seven sacks, and 14 QB hits. 

Those aren’t terrible numbers, but they’re certainly not numbers you’d expect from someone getting paid Perry’s salary. Even still, he was doing okay before his 2018 campaign that saw him start nine games with one forced fumble, three passes defensed, and only 1.5 sacks on the season. 

Injuries have always been a part of Perry’s career arc. The running joke amongst fans was that he played better with a club on his hand. (It’s possible that an injury is what’s keeping him from finding an NFL home right now, too.)

Personally, it wouldn’t surprise me if Perry was an in-season addition to a roster. Now I’m not necessarily saying Green Bay, either, but I don’t know if he’ll latch on with anyone before training camp kicks off, and that leads me to believe he’ll sign with a team that’s been affected by injuries at outside linebacker early in the season. 

Fellow Cheesehead TV writer Andy Herman also addressed the no-risk scenario regarding bringing Perry in for training camp. If Perry doesn't perform, the Packers can cut him outright and not have to pay him a thing. If he performs well, it's likely he would agree to a veteran minimum contract with loaded incentives. If he meets those incentives during the season, then the signing was low-risk and with high upside. If he were to fall short of those incentives, then they aren't paid out anyway. 

As a rotational edge rusher, Perry does intrigue me still. While he’s never truly lived up to the EDGE1 role, he wouldn’t need to be that anymore in Green Bay. He’s got a year of Mike Pettine’s defense under his belt, and he likely would perform well as a rotational rusher and run-stopper. 

For the Packers, it’s unlikely Perry would come in as anything other than EDGE3 or EDGE4 initially, and he would probably slide down the depth chart as the season progressed. And, that’s also potentially why both sides wouldn’t consider a reunion. But, if they did, I think Perry fits in well in a Julius Peppers-type role. When he isn’t expected to be the star, he can make an impact (and hopefully stay healthier) adding fresh legs to a defense that’s going to emphasize pressuring the quarterback. 

All of that said, Kyler Fackrell is entering a contract year. With the Packers paying big money for both Smiths, it becomes more difficult to think Fackrell will get a long-term deal in Green Bay, especially if Rashan Gary takes off his rookie season. If he has another season like his 2018 breakout, someone else might be willing to pay him more money elsewhere. That could be another avenue for Perry’s return in 2020, too. 

And let me be clear about this whole thing. I’m not advocating for or against the return of Nick Perry. I’m simply pointing out that he’s still unsigned, and he’s still in Green Bay. If the Packers find themselves needing depth midway through the season, Perry’s number could be the one they call (assuming he can get #53 back from Kendall Donnerson).

Maggie Loney is a writer for Cheesehead TV and a podcaster for the Pack-A-Day Podcast. Find her on Twitter at @MaggieLawler.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (57) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Packer Fan's picture

I say no. The only reason to bring him back is to fill in for injuries once the squad is set. If you bring him back for camp land then cut him, then he loses opportunities to be picked up by other teams. Not fair for Perry. And he probably won't sign for the veterans minimum. Perry will have opportunities to play once injuries start happening and he will have better leverage for pay.

TheVOR's picture

Vets min deal, he'd be worth having in the rotation. Just wasn't a 7-8M a year guy..

Jerry Hansen's picture

Totally agree. The Packers seemed to be slashed with injuries. Can you imagine the possibilities with 3 or 4 of these guys on the field. Minimum salary with game and production bonuses..

dobber's picture

"If you bring him back for camp land then cut him, then he loses opportunities to be picked up by other teams. "

He's been on the market for months...I think everyone's had their chance. I'm not terribly worried about helping other teams to shore up their rosters.

Guam's picture

Perry is still an adequate player and good edge rushers are hard to come by, so why is he unsigned? If he were willing to take a low ball "prove it" contract he would already be on a team. I suspect his salary demands are what is keeping him unsigned.

The author correctly pointed out that all Perry has to do is wait for injuries and some team will take a chance on him by meeting his salary demands. I hope it is not the Packers.

Coldworld's picture

If one takes the Packers out of the equation for a moment, if one looks at his stats it is surprising that no team has picked him up.

He could be asking for too much, but I suspect there may be a health issue that we are not aware of. Typically that’s why serviceable vets that aren’t expensive or divas aren’t signed at this point.

Guam's picture

I was wondering about a health issue, but have seen nothing in the media. Doesn't preclude a health issue, but the media is pretty good at ferreting out stuff like that. If healthy and priced properly for his production, he could be an adequate player for somebody.

Cubbygold's picture

Hoping GB signs several more vets that can provide depth. Perry, Boston, Berry... Mason Foster is available now.

cheesehead1's picture

No to the oft injured Perry, time to move on.

Tarynfor12's picture

Just when we thought we were rid of him, someone wants to drag him back in using the veteran minimum as justification.

We already know what we'll get and won't get from Perry so let the other team that can't see/understand this sign him.

A new Culture keeps those who earned retention and should never take back what can't move you forward

Perry cannot move himself forward much less a defense.

Coldworld's picture

Something of an overstatement. Perry was fine when healthy. The issue was he was not healthy enough.

Tarynfor12's picture

Yes, let's easily forget how many people were wondering if Perry was is the game when he was in the game.
He was more a missing persons case for more games than he ever was noticed on game tape.

Holecrap's picture

You noticed too. That is my issue with a guy I prayed the Packers would not pick and made me rethink Gutt's ability to asses talent. A guy who was about the same size, strength as Perry. A guy who they lauded over coming out of HS. A guy who was suppose to dominate college football, and a guy like Perry who knew how to go missing in big games against top opponents.
Talk about going missing. Two of the biggest games of his career last year and not sure I heard his name called at all.
I think the big O linemen of OSU and MSU handled him easily. A guy who told the coaching staff at UM that he would come back and play when he was ready not when they said he was ready.
Note: Out of Detroit when he did hurt his shoulder word leaked that he was thinking of doing a Bosa and just sitting out the rest of the season but ready for the combine. Doctors said he was ok to play and he refused to do so for several games thinking about his options. That's the guy we drafted.

justjan's picture

Easily? Double and triple teamed. That would happen on the Packers.

justjan's picture


Samson's picture

So he can stand on the sidelines (injured) & collect his paycheck. -- Although, he does know the way to the rehab area.

packerbackerjim's picture

There is a reason he is still unsigned. He may choose to wait to see what opportunities exist. I wish him well elsewhere.

porupack's picture

Perry would be good as depth, but that is a luxury for GB and unlikely to be attractive for Perry even if he is unsigned as the season starts. I think Perry knows GB has brought in the starting OLB crew and takes his chances with another team after cutdowns or injury at their OLB starters.
Priority now for GB is preserve cap space and use it either to sign its upcoming Free Agents Clark, Fackrell or Daniels, or..... find a high upside, roster cut on cut-down day, at S or CB, or ILB, OT or QB. That is better spend than Perry after this offseason.

fastmoving's picture

I would give it a try. Low risk move with nothing to lose but some to gain.
And when you see wich wellinformed/alwaysaheadofthecurve kind of guys here (Im sure they earn there paychecks harder than anyone else on the planet) against it, it seems even smarter.

PatrickGB's picture

My 2 cents. No. It’s cap space, cap space, cap space. We have possibly three veterans we need to sign next year. Save it for next year or do one of them this year. Perry is a possible luxury as a good run defender but not much else.

Lare's picture

Perry is going on 30-years old and never stayed healthy for a full 16-game season in his entire career. He had one good year where he had 11 sacks, but other than that he averaged around 3 sacks a year the rest of his career.

Hopefully, the Packers learned from the Wilkerson experience that signing often-injured aging veterans isn't always the best idea.

Coldworld's picture

You raise an interesting question. Suppose Perry signed an incentive laden low guarantee contract. Would the team be better or worse this year?

In reality, that question really boils down to the 5th OLB spot. The Smiths, Gary and Fackrell are going nowhere assuming all remain healthy. Looking at the pre-camp roster predictions, so far Gilbert is predicted to be the 5th and last OLB beating off competition from Roberts and Donnerson.

I know little of where the latter 2 are at, but we do know more on Gilbert. Would Perry be a better or worse option than Gilbert?

My initial though was no. Time to move on. Thinking about it this way, however, and I am no longer sure that Perry would not be a significant upgrade and back up capable of playing more roles than Gilbert.

RWood832's picture

OLB#5 needs to contribute on Special Teams. Do you see Perry fulfilling in that role? I certainly do not. This is a spot for a young player with growth potential so I see Donnerson or Roberts beating out Gilbert for OLB#5.

Coldworld's picture

I agree, and i’d prefer that either of them surpass Gilbert’s level of play last year too if Gilbert doesn’t. Was really pondering the value or otherwise of a team picking up Perry in the context of the Packers if Gilbert 2018 was the benchmark. Hopefully it won’t be.

I suspect this is purely hypothetical anyway as my suspicion is that he is not fit.

Tarynfor12's picture

" Thinking about it this way, however, and I am no longer sure that Perry would not be a significant upgrade and back up capable of playing more roles than Gilbert."

Do some more thinking....Perry and ' upgrade ' in the same sentence...please ponder what you thought and then wrote.

Coldworld's picture

I do think, sadly you just seem to negate, but I note your belief that Gilbert is clearly better than Perry. I hope to see him prove that. So far Gilbert has just been a guy and more invisible than Perry ever was when in the field.

Thinking involves questioning your own assumptions and seeing other sides to an argument. You should try that just once, you might enjoy it.

Tarynfor12's picture

I have and do all the time. The problem is those who simply will not except what a player isn't and that has been my fight about Perry since day one and prior and Mathews to a lesser extent but still the writing was clear on the wall as to his descent.

My other thoughts are what I've said months ago when LaFleur was hired...wait and see and that includes players retained and those who may be used differently and those who may be more ready and or less worthy.

In two weeks we will all begin to see who's who, what's what with every rookie to a point but more insightful about the veterans being heralded on any level via LaFleur's offense and Petine's defense now hopefully less hindered.

The New Culture demands a wait and see but anything concerning Perry is a been there,seen that and is of no further value to this team going forward. All defense of his reasons for failure have been heard over and over. Most know he was a bust for what was hoped and moved on but may still offer an obligatory defense merely to save themselves being called a negative fan. I do not suffer with that anxiety.

Point Packer's picture

I would finally throw my TV across the room.

Holecrap's picture

Do you think you could hit him from there? LOL

Point Packer's picture

In my twisted former Green Bay Packer dreams.

mamasboy's picture

If we can pay him with bologna sandwiches, sure.

Point Packer's picture

Can they be expired gas station ones?

mamasboy's picture

Yes, they can be moldy, expired gas station ones !

mamasboy's picture

Yes, they can be moldy, expired gas station ones !

mamasboy's picture

Yes, they can be moldy, expired gas station ones !

mamasboy's picture

Yes, they can be moldy, expired gas station ones !

dblbogey's picture

You a stutterer?

Point Packer's picture

Can they can be moldy, expired gas station ones?

Coldworld's picture

No, they sold out four posts ago

Curry Rambeau's picture

I wouldn't sign eem for a 2 day old Road Ranger Roller Dog.

Holecrap's picture

I say take him back if and only if he can pass the "snow shovel" test. If his ass is wider than an average snow shovel then just say no.
My guess is he is terribley out of shape and no one thinks he is good enough to replaxce who they have now.
Never liked the pick from day one, another Ted miss IMO

PackfanNY's picture

No, no, no a thousand times no.

I have spent the better part of the last few seasons looking at the injury report and seeing Cobb and Perry doubtful or worse yet OUT. Perry and Cobb always worried what is wrong now. Ok now we have Kevin King...

We finally have them replaced and you want to bring one of them back? His mind and wallet say “yes” but his body said no.

Brandip's picture

I think the outside linebacker position is solid in projected starters and backup players. Would it be wise to use that roster spot at another position? Rashan Gary was drafted for this purpose. He could not do worse than Nick Perry did, and he might have the motivation to prove the Packers made the right choice. This reminds me of my sisters car. She bought an Oldsmobile Alero brand new. As soon as the warranty expired, it was being repaired every other week. She kept the damn car because it was the first car she ever bought. Relate Nick Perry to the car in this story and roll it off a cliff. No more highlights of Perry petting his cast. No more repair bills.

Old School's picture

21 defenders in the game day roster. 9 DBs. So that's 12 other guys.

Martinez, Clark, Daniels, Smith,Smith, Gary, Lowry, Fackrell, Burks, Adams, Lancaster....

There isn't really much use for him unless we lose a guy. As an aside, that group of front seven defenders looks pretty good to me.

stockholder's picture

Perry isn't coming back to Green Bay. His house is for sale. He's another ex - packer who is hurt. (Shunned. ) He wants money. He'll end up on the west Coast. But if I was him I'd knock on Carolina's door. It's just a matter of the cap room, and not having a inflated opinion of yourself..

Point Packer's picture

Nick Perry as a Viking would make my week. Or a Seaturd.

Lare's picture

As a native of Detroit, Michigan I could see him with the Lions.

That's fine with me.

Old School's picture

From the Packers perspective, I don't think they have much of a use for him right now, but remember, last year we lost Ryan on the 2nd day and we were looking for somebody to play his snaps.

We have 21 defensive guys suited up for games, and a couple more inactive. Of the non-secondary guys, we're looking at Smith, Smith, Martinez, Burks, Fackrell, Gary, Clark, Daniels, Lowry, Adams, and even Lancaster.

That's 11 already and you probably only have room for one or two guys. Like I said, he just doesn't make much sense at any price unless somebody gets hurt.

From Perry's perspective, he's already made enough money for the rest of his life and he could just sign a sweet deal with a contender who needs a sack guy.

As I've said before, despite what people's 'eyes' tell them, he has average availability at that position, and when he's available, he's a productive guy. Not super-productive, but as good as a lot of the guys out there.

I think our main six front line guys (assuming we play nickel a lot) Would include Martinez, Smith. Smith, Clark, Daniels, Gary, with Lowry and Fackrell and Adams in the rotation.

Point Packer's picture

But he's not a sack guy.

Demon's picture

Hard pass on Perry. All he would be is a expense. Both salary a medical expense.

sam1's picture

Packers a move for Mason Foster cut by Redskins? Interesting thought?

Gort's picture

From Andy Herman's grading articles:
"Nick Perry -7.65"
"These are not the droids we are looking for.
Move along. Move along."

AgrippaLII's picture

Don't see it happening. Why would you want an old and oft injured guy taking away reps from a younger developing player ? Perry may eventually sign on somewhere...but only as a last resort !

Ken Parrish's picture

The players they have now are better and healthier than Perry. Why would you cut a better, healthier player to bring Perry back???

Irish_Cheesehead's picture

Not a shock he is unsigned.

White92's picture


mamasboy's picture

We should sign him if he agrees to pay 1/2 of the 11 million cap hit the team took by cutting him.

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