Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Safety Morgan Burnett Agrees To Four-Year Extension

Unlike some recent extension (Rodgers, Matthews), there was not much written about Burnett before the deal was done. Reportedly the Packers have agreed to a four-year extension with one of their young starters.
As is usual for GM Ted Thompson, he gets a player for less guaranteed money. Burnett's contract is about the same as the Colts gave to LaRon Landry with about half as much in guarantees. In Burnett's case, he's giving up potentially more in a signing bonus in order to have an extension in hand a year before he's eligible for free agency. And the $6 million annual average is significantly less than the $8 million ($40 million total) the Buccaneers paid for Deshon Goldson.

The Packers had some salary cap room available this year, so locking up a young veteran they intended to keep anyway is a good move.

But how good is Burnett? He only has six interceptions and 19 pass defenses for his career. He was known for his ball skills (i.e. interceptions) when he was drafted in 2010, but that hasn't yet translated to the pros. The hope is that he's the next Nick Collins. Collins didn't emerge as a Pro Bowl performer until his fourth season (age 25). Burnett will be entering his fourth season (age 24) in 2013. Safeties tend to develop slower than other defensive players, so the hope is that the Packers have locked in Burnett before he takes the leap.

I read on Twitter comparisons to WR Jordy Nelson, who was signed to an extension before his breakout 2011 season, and that's best case scenario for Burnett. If that happens, this will be a bargain for the Packers. But he was a player they were probably going to keep anyway, and plays at a position without an obvious replacement, so this is a necessary deal even if he only maintains his 2011 and 2012 level play.

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