The Green Bay Packers preemptively locked up another young core player by resigning safety Morgan Burnett to a new four-year, $24.75 million extension. The 24-year-old Morgan was in the final year of his rookie contract.
According to NFL.com, his new contract includes an $8.25 million signing bonus and is worth up to $26 million if all incentives are met.
The $5.2 million average per year of the five-year deal (four new years plus the last year of his current contract) reflects a strong investment in a young, yet proven performer that is entering the prime of his career. Pro Football Focus rated Burnett as the 16th highest rated safety in 2012.
Coming on the heels of the new blockbuster contracts for quarterback Aaron Rodgers and linebacker Clay Matthews, Packers general manager Ted Thompson continues to practice his philosophy of wrapping up core players before their contracts expire. Compared to recent contracts signed by other NFL safeties Kam Chancellor, Eric Weddle, Tyvon Branch and Michael Griffin, Thompson got great value by wrapping up Burnett at an average of $5.2 million per year.
The fourth-year veteran has quietly become a leader on the Packers’ defense, amassing more than 100 tackles in each of his last two seasons while starting 32 regular season games in that span. His 2010 rookie season was cut short by a season-ending knee injury against Detroit in Week 4.
Since the injury-forced end of former safety Nick Collins’ career, the Packers have been searching for a worthy complement to Burnett at the other safety spot. Holdover veterans Jerron McMillian and M.D. Jennings will compete in training camp to earn the other starting spot opposite Burnett. Second-year safety Sean Richardson is in the mix as well, but is returning from a season-ending neck injury.