The Green Bay Packers have issues with the salary cap this offseason. They have already restricted the contracts of offensive tackle David Bakhtiari, running back Aaron Jones and defensive lineman Kenny Clark and more are sure to follow.
The big question remains what Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams will do. The Packers have indicated they will do all they can to keep the duo in Green Bay in 2022 and beyond.
But the Packers have several other players who are scheduled to be free agents who they would love to bring back but aren’t sure if they can afford. One of those is cornerback Rasul Douglas.
Douglas was signed off the Cardinals practice squad on October 2. The former West Virginia product stepped into the lineup almost immediately and did such a good job that he was named a Pro Bowl alternate despite not playing for the Packers until Week 6.
Douglas finished the season with five interceptions two of which he returned for touchdowns. Douglas also broke up 13 passes and forced one fumble.
There is no question that Douglas made a big impact on the Packers secondary. With Jaire Alexander out with an injured shoulder and Kevin King in and out of the lineup with assorted injuries, Douglas had to step in and play right away. He did not allow a touchdown in coverage all season.
Douglas’ impact was felt in a big way during the closing minutes of the Packers Week 9 win in Arizona. The Cardinals were the last undefeated team in the NFL and the Packers were clinging to a 24-21 lead in the closing seconds. Arizona had the ball at the Green Bay five-yard line with 15 seconds left. Douglas picked off a pass intended for A.J. Green in the end zone to preserve an emotional win for the Packers who were playing without their top three wide receivers. In the game, Douglas had nine tackles and broke up two passes before coming up with the game-clinching interception.
Unlike Eric Stokes and Alexander, Douglas does not have elite speed. But he studies film extensively and puts himself in the right place at the right time to make plays.
Packers defensive coordinator Joe Barry praised the work that Douglas put in. “I can’t believe this guy hasn’t landed a secure spot on a roster, not just because of the plays he’s making but the way he approaches the game as a pro.”
Stokes was impressed with Douglas’ work ethic. “Rasul, [is] one of the hardest workers I’ve ever seen,” Stokes explained. “He’s one of those guys that got dog in him. It’s completely different. I absolutely commend him for everything that he did for us. Beyond proud of everything that ‘Sul done did this year.”
How good was Douglas? According to pro-football-reference.com, opposing quarterbacks completed just 50 percent of their passes last season when throwing to receivers covered by Douglas and their quarterback rating was just 44.5. Both numbers were career bests for Douglas by a wide margin.
The key question becomes whether Douglas can come close to matching those numbers in the future or if they were a single-season aberration.
So, with Douglas scheduled to be a free agent, can the Packers bring him back in 2022? Once the season ended, Douglas indicated he is open to returning to Green Bay where he was an excellent fit in Joe Barry’s defense.
The veteran corner also appreciated the opportunity the Packers gave him when they signed him in October and truly enjoyed his time in Titletown. “I built a family here,” Douglas said. “I’ve still got some unfinished business, I feel like, to handle. Of course, I want to be here. But I don’t think that’s all my decision to make.”
Douglas seems to be open to a return to Green Bay. After the season ended, he told reporters that it would take “probably a little bit more [money than he made last year], but nothing crazy.”
In his pre-combine press conference, GM Brian Gutekunst indicated the Packers would like to bring back Douglas if they can work out a new contract with him. The key is obviously being able to fit him under the salary cap.
If Douglas returns and joins Alexander and Stokes, the Packers will have three quality cornerbacks, a position that NFL teams can never have enough depth at.
Douglas is coming off a great season for the Packers. Packers fans hope it will not be his last in Green Bay.
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