It seems like the Green Bay Packers do the same thing every offseason. They re-sign their top free agents, and they wait for the market to set itself before making any big signings. With plenty of cap space to sign free agents, the Packers did just that by re-signing Mike Neal to a two-year deal. The five-year veteran out of Purdue had his best season in 2013 with the Packers as he had 47 tackles, five sacks, a forced fumble and an interceptions.
Under Dom Capers, the Packers run an aggressive 3-4 defense. When the Packers drafted Neal in 2010, his body was in shape to play the 4-3. But after an injury in 2012, Neal lost over 25 pounds and it seemed like his body immediately turned into shape to play as an outside linebacker in a 3-4. Since then, Neal has turned into a nice starter for the Packers. He enjoyed his best career year this past season, and many thought he could get paid a lot of money elsewhere in free agency.
Instead, Green Bay brought back Neal to man the outside linebacker position for another few years. Neal is not a player who will change games, but he does make an impact as an athletic pass rusher from the outside linebacker position. Many have the Packers selecting C.J. Mosley in the first round of this year’s draft, but the signing of Neal is just one of the reasons why they should pass on Mosley in the draft.
The Packers haven’t had a good defense in years, and they must get better on that side of the ball if they want to make a deep run into the playoffs. Obviously, the Packers have one of the best offenses in the NFL. But, their defense is extremely subpar. Upgrading the defensive backfield is crucial for this team. Neal is a guy who can get after the quarterback, and that is something that allows the secondary to have more opportunities to take the ball away.