The Green Bay Packers have some important decisions to make this offseason on potential free agents. One of those concerns cornerback and return specialist Keisean Nixon. Today we examine why the Packers should or should not bring Nixon back in 2024.

Why the Packers Should Re-Sign Keisean Nixon

Nixon’s primary value is as a return specialist. He does provide the team with depth at cornerback, but he’s not a starting caliber player at that position.

The former South Carolina star earned All Pro honors for the second straight season as a return specialist, becoming only the fourth player in NFL history to accomplish that feat.

This season, he led the league with an average of 26.1-yards per kick return and with 782 return yards. While he did not score a touchdown in 2023, he did have a long return of 51 yards during the regular season.

In the playoff loss to the 49ers, Nixon had a 73-yard return. He fumbled on that play, but Eric Wilson recovered. The return helped set up touchdown pass from Jordan Love to Tucker Kraft that gave the Packers a 21-14 lead.

Nixon is fearless and is always eager to make a big play. Early in the season, he ran back some kicks from deep in the end zone that he probably should have downed. But that just isn’t Nixon’s style. He improved in this area as the season progressed.

His attitude and enthusiasm for the game is also contagious and has a positive effect on the locker room.

Nixon also adds depth at cornerback. With Eric Stokes returning from an injury and Corey Ballentine not certain to be back, Nixon gives the team experience, especially at slot corner.

Why the Packers Should Not Re-Sign Keisean Nixon

While Nixon is a dangerous return specialist, he is rather average as a slot corner. According to, opposing quarterbacks completed a hefty 77.8 percent of their passes when throwing to receivers covered by Nixon. They also had a quarterback rating of 104.8.

His tackling was also inconsistent. He was credited with 10 missed tackles in 17 games during the regular season.

Perhaps the best part of Nixon’s game was his ability to prevent big plays and keep receivers in front of him. That was more of the strategy of former defensive coordinator Joe Barry, but how well will Nixon’s talents fit into the new system of Jeff Hafley?

What Keisean Nixon Would Cost the Packers

Cost may be another reason the Packers choose to move on from Nixon. Last season, he signed a one-year deal worth a total of $4 million. It included some void years to reduce the 2023 cap hit.

After earning All Pro honors as a return specialist, Nixon will likely be looking for a raise in 2024. Expect him to demand at least $5 million per season for his next deal.

Nixon will turn 27 in June. He is in the prime of his career and as a free agent, this may be his best chance to earn a big NFL contract.

There is little doubt that Packers GM Brian Gutekunst can find a kick returner and slot corner for less money per year than what Nixon is going to earn. The Packers could save a little bit of money in dead cap space by signing him to a new deal before the start of the new league year, but it would still likely be more expensive than players on their rookie contracts.

Finding a better slot corner may not be too big a challenge, but finding a better return specialist will be difficult.

Before adding Nixon, the Packers struggled to find an elite return specialist. The last Packers player to make the Pro Bowl at that position was Roell Preston back in 1998.

Nixon provides the Packers with the chance to break a long return every time he touches the football. Gutekunst has to decide whether that threat is worth the amount of money Nixon will command on the open market. We’ll see whether he returns to the Packers in 2024 or ends up playing elsewhere.





Follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

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