After Perry’s 11-sack regular season in 2016 -- by far his best year -- the Packers wanted him back, and the deal was being finalized shortly before free agency opens at 4 p.m. ET Thursday. Perry reportedly had drawn strong interest from multiple teams during the pre-free agency negotiating period.
Terms: Five years, $60 million, including an $18.5 million signing bonus (which is the only guaranteed money). The full breakdown can be found here.
Grade: C-plus -- For the better part of his career, Perry was considered an underachiever. The Packers’ first-round pick in the 2012 draft (No. 28 overall) had trouble staying healthy early on; he missed 15 of a possible 32 regular-season games in his first two years. Even when healthy, he was a part-time player. The Packers declined to pick up his fifth-year option and re-signed him to a one-year, $5 million deal for last season, when he finally became a full-time starter and major contributor. If the evaluation was based solely on his 2016 season, then it would be much higher, but the whole body of work must be considered.
What it means: The Packers won’t lose their most productive pass-rusher of last season and therefore won’t have to completely rebuild their outside linebacker group. Fellow pass-rushers Julius Peppers and Datone Jones also are headed to free agency. Losing Perry would have forced general manager Ted Thompson to address this position with another free agent or a high draft pick. Instead, Perry likely will team with Clay Matthews as the Packers’ starting outside linebackers again this season. Perry also has been solid against the run. And if Peppers and/or Jones return, it’s a bonus. Perry reportedly drew strong interest from the Colts and the Jets.
What’s the risk? Injury. That has always been the major concern with Perry. When healthy, he has largely been productive and provided defensive coordinator Dom Capers with the playmaker he needs at outside linebacker. Take last season, when he posted a half-sack or more in 10 games, which tied for second in the NFL. The problem is, Perry has never played a full season. Even last year, when he finally blossomed into an impact player, he missed a pair of games because of a broken hand and had to play with a large protective cast upon his return.