Nick Perry hit free agency after his most successful season in the NFL. After never recording more than four sacks in a season, he came up huge for the Packers, desperately in need of pressure on the quarterback, with 11 sacks and his only career interception.

The Packers make quick work with their break out pass rusher, signing him to a five year, $60 million contract, with a $18.5 million signing bonus. ESPN’s Rob Demovsky with the contract breakdown. His new contract will keep him until he’s 31 years old. Signing bonuses can be distributed over the length of the contract, so his signing bonus will take up $3.7 million against the salary cap each season. In total, he’ll account for $5 million against the cap for the 2017 season. As of 3/9/2017, the Packers still have about $39 million left in available salary cap for next season.

With Julius Peppers needing to take plays off in the regular season to stay fresh for the playoffs, Green Bay was in need of a pass rusher to play alongside Clay Matthews, who is signed to a similar contract to Perry. Clay Matthews signed a five year, $66 million extension, with a $20.5 million signing bonus in 2013. If you want to see what Perry’s contract will look like over the next five years, check this out.

Point being, the Packers are paying two outside linebackers elite level money to try to create some pressure. Both players have had their injury problems and down seasons, so it’s a bit of a risk for the Packers, but they really didn’t have a choice.

Perry out played Clay Matthews last year, but Clay was playing with a more significant injury than Perry. If they’re both healthy and at their best, the Packers could have a pretty dangerous pass rush next season. Without Perry, they were set up for their worst pass rushing season in years, which is saying something.

The Packers are still in trouble as they don’t have a significant threat to clog up the middle of the line. They’ve given Kenny Clark the potential to break out next season by having a threat on each side. Another second-year player, Dean Lowry, showed potential late last season. He could be another option for busting up the protection schemes of the opposing offensive line. He’s more of a defensive end, but he played inside down the stretch and made some plays using his quickness.

The Packers defense needs to find a way to make more big plays if they hope to make a Super Bowl run. With Clay Matthews struggling for years, although I greatly appreciate him playing through injuries last season, Nick Perry may very well be the best player in the front seven. Ted Thompson really didn’t have a choice in ponying up big money.

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