Did The Packers Make A Mistake Letting Casey Hayward Go?

While the Packers offseason was highlighted by the unusual additon of a big name free agent in tight end Jared Cook, perhaps even more unusual but less reported was how the Packers let one of their own young talented players hit free agency and then sign with another team, reportedly without much of a fight.  That player is of course 2012 2nd round pick Casey Hayward, who lit the defense on fire with a near defensive rookie of the year season in his first year, then lost basically his entire sophmore campaign to injured reserve and the last two season mostly as a role/slot defender.  It's interesting that Hayward signed a very modest 3-year $15 million contract that the Packers could have easily matched if they wanted.  While the consensus at the time was that Hayward wasn't that great of a player, the Packers have held onto players who showed a lot less (Nick Perry) than Hayward.  The thought was that Micah Hyde and the combination of 1st round pick Damarious Randall and 2nd round pick Quinten Rollins was more than enough to match what Hayward could offer.

Interestingly, Football Outsiders has just released their cornerback charting stats and the results are surprising; Packers cornerbacks do happen to make it both on the list of best and worst players of 2015.  Sam Shields is the best cornerback on the Packers roster, he ranked 13th on adjusted net yards (or adjust yards given up per play), 20th in pass defense success rate and 18th in target rate (which looks at how many passes a cornerback is targeted compared to the amount of snaps he plays).  Casey Hayward is right up there with Shields; he ranks 15th in adjusted net yards, 19th in pass defense success rate and a surprising 3rd in target rate.  What this means is that when Casey Hayward was on the field, quarterbacks noticed and decided to throw away from him, in fact Hayward's target rate is lower than Patrick Peterson, rightfully regarded as the best cornerback in the league at the moment.  

On the other side, one of the worst cornerbacks last year was rookie Damarious Randall, who ranked 61st in adjusted net yards, 57th in pass defense success rate and 70th in target rate.  Some of this naturally can be chalked up to rookie inexperience and opposing quarterbacks "picking on the new guy".  Another rookie cornerback who fared quite poorly in target rate was Kansas City's Marcus Peters, who ultimately ended up winning the defensive rookie of the year award last year.

So did the Packers make a huge mistake in letting Hayward go too soon?  To be honest it does seem like the rare case where a young and talented, homegrown product was not retained, especially considering Ted Thompson invested a 2nd round pick in Hayward in 2012 and he managed to produce a fantastic rookie campign with 6 interceptions and was a solid contributor afterwards.  Perhaps Hayward's inability to play the perimeter coupled by the future investment in the more multi-faceted Micah Hyde and of course the addition of Randall and Rollins played a part in letting Hayward go, but at the moment the last cornerback spot is filled by Demtri Goodson, who has shown essentially nothing during his time with the Packers, is already 27 and has been suspended 4 games for PEDs.  Would you rather have Hayward in Goodson's spot on and spent money on Hayward instead of Perry (who is making essentially the same APY)?  I would.  

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Comments (48)

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Bearmeat's picture

July 29, 2016 at 12:08 pm

No. They've got younger/cheaper and already just as good or better players already in the fold.

Perry was resigned because outside of CM3, OLB development has been a COMPLETE bust in GB since 2009. They have a 37 year old Peppers and literally no one else. Not so at CB, where there is a strong history of youngsters learning the ropes and becoming longtime excellent players.

Moving on. :)

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dobber's picture

July 29, 2016 at 12:58 pm

"No. They've got younger/cheaper and already just as good or better players already in the fold."

Or you could ask yourself: how much do you want to pay a guy who you think might be your 4th best CB?

"Perry was resigned because outside of CM3, OLB development has been a COMPLETE bust in GB since 2009."

I think the Packer brass still believes in him, and if he shows well, he might come cheaper than we expect...

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Bearmeat's picture

July 29, 2016 at 01:50 pm

No - if he shows well, he'll get a LOT of money. Probably somewhere else. The guy never has wanted to be a 34 OLB and should never have been drafted to be one.

If he shows poorly, he'll be out of the league.

If he shows mediocre, he'll get a middling contract. Probably from GB overpaying. Honestly, this is what I'm scared of.

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hobbes's picture

July 29, 2016 at 06:25 pm

I would wager that if Perry really didn't want to play as an 34 OLB he would not be in Green Bay

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Bearmeat's picture

July 29, 2016 at 08:15 pm

What other options were there for him? With how he's produced, there's no way someone else offered a mid-range pass rushing contract for multiple years?

He's in GB for this year because he thought it was his best bet to raise his value quickly (without having to learn a new system), and get back on to the market.

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TarynsEyes's picture

July 29, 2016 at 12:59 pm

Using Perry's production and resigning as comparison to any player giving production, small or large, and who should have been retained/payed, the answer is obviously NOT Perry.

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Katsuya89's picture

July 29, 2016 at 01:04 pm

I stay very wary when it comes to some sites, like Outsiders, and PFF, because stats don't always tell the truth. I thought Hayward was decent the last couple years, but nothing close to Shields. Outside of his rookie season, he has been average. Randall played a lot better than his rating on that site too. I think the CB Corp will be fine, as long as a mass of injuries don't happen.

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Oppy's picture

July 29, 2016 at 07:26 pm

Statistics tell a very defined, precise truth.

The problem is, people often don't understand the limitations of those precisely defined truths, and attempt to apply them to a broader scope where there may or may not be any real correlation at all, or fail to understand all the factors that contribute to, or do not contribute to, the measured statistic.

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Lphill's picture

July 29, 2016 at 01:13 pm

I don't think Sam Shields is a household name when it comes to corners , I like the young guys and the safety position is pretty strong. So I think the Pack is in decent shape as far as the secondary goes.

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PortlandMark's picture

July 29, 2016 at 01:53 pm

This is off topic but I have been following the Caring Bridge updates and Adam's surgery is going well. The doctor got the cancer away from his liver and, as of this writing, his organs have been saved. He still has more to go. I just you all would want to know.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

July 29, 2016 at 02:35 pm

Excellent news. Thanks for the update.

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EdsLaces's picture

July 29, 2016 at 03:51 pm

That's great

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lucky953's picture

July 29, 2016 at 07:13 pm

+1

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croatpackfan's picture

July 29, 2016 at 02:47 pm

"Did The Packers Make A Mistake Letting Casey Hayward Go?"
Thomas, answer is simply: NO! Casey was worst CB last season for Packers (excluding Goodson). No matter what "Football Outsiders" said or says.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

July 29, 2016 at 02:47 pm

I think letting Hayward go was a close call. Note though that Hayward might have preferred a change of scenery if he thought he could play outside and GB only thought he could be a slot CB (preferably in zone only as well IMO), so he might have wanted more to stay in GB. Still, $5.2M of Hayward's $6.8M guaranteed money comes off the cap in year 1. The AAV was $5M, and the guaranteed money was very little - really could look at it as a 1 or 2 year contract.

I've never been as high on Randall as most on this site, but he looks like a starter who can play both slot and outside. Whitt is really good - it might depend on what he thinks of Gunter and even Goodson, and given our cap situation for next year, I think letting him walk was correct.

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lucky953's picture

July 29, 2016 at 07:17 pm

I think Hayward's lack of versatility doomed him in GB. He's mediocre on the outside, can't play safety, and isn't an important ST guy. In addition, Ted has to keep an eye on holding money to re-sign OL guys. Hayward was superfluous to requirements.

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zeke's picture

July 31, 2016 at 10:15 am

"Note though that Hayward might have preferred a change of scenery..."

Exactly. He was a UFA, so why not take the money SD was offering and have a legit shot at starting rather than coming back and perhaps being the #4 CB in Green Bay? "Letting him walk" implies that GB could dictate his decision. Short of using the franchise tag (or massively over-paying), I don't think they could.

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Packer_Pete's picture

July 29, 2016 at 02:49 pm

In short: No

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Finwiz's picture

July 29, 2016 at 03:00 pm

Definitely NOT a mistake to let him go. Thompson knows what he's doing with the players he drafts and the eval of their talent during their time here. Hayward had a very promising rookie year, but showed a propensity for injury, a tendency to not play very physical, and no big play ability in his last two years. Somewhere he lost it confidence, or perhaps year 1 was just a fluke? He offered no run support whatsoever and literally ran away from tackles at times. I was not impressed with him, nor was I surprised they let him go. I doubt he sets the world on fire in SD, but we will see soon enough.

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gr7070's picture

July 29, 2016 at 03:14 pm

Yes they made a mistake. Especially considering the short term and low annualil average value.

It's not a huge mistake because they have other players there, but a mistake it was.

And y'all can continue to pay attention to yards while the enlightened football world utilizes meaningful stats.

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Handsback's picture

July 29, 2016 at 03:45 pm

You can't keep everyone that's a starter. Other teams are going to want your players if they're good and will be willing to pay them big bucks to leave. Green Bay has three ascending CBs and frankly Hayward was pretty good, but nothing special. If he was...he would have gotten a lot more money. Sometimes the league will tell you how good your players are and stats while important don't tell the whole story.

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Tundraboy's picture

July 29, 2016 at 06:24 pm

Well said. Just not that special.

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EdsLaces's picture

July 29, 2016 at 03:52 pm

Casey is a solid player but getting rid of him means one huge thing ....not having to worry about his constant injuries. He is a solid player.....when healthy.

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Tundraboy's picture

July 29, 2016 at 06:22 pm

No. Goodson being on the team is no reason to justify resigning Casey, as Goodson should not be here anyway. Hoping someone beats him out this camp.

Moving on, like Rollins more

Btw, I like Perry. We need his skills more, assuming of course that he is healthy.

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J0hn Denver's Gavel's picture

July 29, 2016 at 08:21 pm

I agree with your thoughts on Goodson. Isn't he going on 40?

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NickPerry's picture

July 30, 2016 at 07:10 am

2 Thumbs up TB!

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Tundraboy's picture

July 30, 2016 at 06:35 pm

Thanks NP. Two thumbs up for you.

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Point-Packer's picture

July 30, 2016 at 01:32 am

TT signs Hayward to that deal, blind extreme homers praise the contract as as team friendly. Other team signs Hayward to that deal, blind extreme homers say "you can't sign everyone".

The blind extreme homers on this site live In a fantasy land. We lost a solid CB to a team who got a bargain. And yet we continue to sign pieces of pure shit like Nick Perry.

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marpag1's picture

July 30, 2016 at 01:59 am

You are a very unpleasant person.

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Point-Packer's picture

July 30, 2016 at 02:30 am

Sure. And based in reality. Unlike you blind, extreme homers. Reading your unicorn, rainbow fantasy land commentary year after year makes me vomit. Wipe the candy flavored shit out of your eyes for once and realize GB is blowing the opportunity to win many SBs by having two HOF QBs in a row. You happy with those two SBs? I'm not. If you are, you are not a fan.

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marpag1's picture

July 30, 2016 at 02:32 am

Which post of mine are you referring to?

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Point-Packer's picture

July 30, 2016 at 02:41 am

The one above. In this string. That one. Where you push back on my comment by stating I am "an unpleasant person". I inferred from that comment that you disagree with my perspectives. What am I missing here? You need a handbook or some other reading guide? Perhaps a tutorial on the English language?

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marpag1's picture

July 30, 2016 at 02:52 am

LOL. Nope, that answers everything perfectly. No handbook or tutorial needed. Please continue to have a lovely day.

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Point-Packer's picture

July 30, 2016 at 12:26 pm

Blind homerism

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Point-Packer's picture

July 30, 2016 at 03:11 am

"'Make the Packers Great Again!"

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NickPerry's picture

July 30, 2016 at 07:14 am

God damn Pete relax. Remember this is nothing but a place for us to share an opinion, trust and believe there's not one of us occupying one of the 32 GM or Head Coaching spots in the NFL.

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dobber's picture

July 30, 2016 at 05:43 am

It's a team-friendly contract if it's given to a guy who you think is one of your top 2 or maybe 3 CBs. Hayward probably is not that. Who -- of all the pending free agents in 2017 -- are you going to let walk when you pay Hayward at a position where they feel they have the depth to absorb the loss? "You can't sign everyone" isn't about blind homerism...it's modern salary cap, roster management truth.

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Tundraboy's picture

July 30, 2016 at 06:39 pm

Finally a voice of reason.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

July 31, 2016 at 12:51 am

Dobber. Top 2 or 3 UFA CBs make way more than $5M AAV. I am not sure that your reply is based on reality. $5M sounds like 4th CB money to me.

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dobber's picture

July 31, 2016 at 05:33 am

??? I mean the 4th CB on your roster...4th on the Packer depth chart.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

July 31, 2016 at 08:05 am

Sorry, Dobber, guess I wasn't very clear. I agree: GB should have let Hayward walk; Agree Hayward would have been our 4th best CB on our roster - 4th on our depth chart, that is. I don't think $5M AAV is an excessive amount to pay for a UFA destined to be your 4th best CB if he is young, can play pretty good slot CB and also outside CB, albeit at a somewhat less than average level.

I favored letting him walk because, IMO, Shields, Randall and Rollins can all play outside CB (and because I have hopes that Gunter can play outside CB as well), and Randall, Rollins and to a lesser extent, Hyde, can play slot CB. $5M AAV is too much for our 7th best DB.

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dobber's picture

July 31, 2016 at 08:11 am

I agree! But would argue (unless you've got CB who are injury prone) that philosophically your 4th CB is probably better suited to be a cheap, first-contract, developmental guy rather than a UFA making $5M/yr.

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Allan Murphy's picture

July 30, 2016 at 08:15 am

No !!!!!!

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Rossonero's picture

July 30, 2016 at 04:24 pm

Heyward had issues tackling, showed consistently he could not play as an outside corner, was only good in the slot, lost a step after his foot surgery, had no sacks and his interceptions dropped sharply after a promising rookie year. I hope he plays well in San Diego though, because then we'll get a 4th or 5th round Compensatory pick out of him.

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Tundraboy's picture

July 30, 2016 at 06:40 pm

Yay, another voice of reason.

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Rossonero's picture

July 31, 2016 at 07:17 am

Haha thanks.

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stockholder's picture

July 30, 2016 at 06:46 pm

Good move by TT. You don't overpay an avg. CB who lost his speed to keep up. Goodson needs to go next.

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TXBadger's picture

July 30, 2016 at 11:49 pm

I remember a play where Hyde and Hayward were chasing down a guy who had broken free and Hyde (whose speed is questionable) passed Hayward and tripped up the player before he could score. It was a great effort by Hyde, but I remember saying, is Hayward really that slow?

Hayward would turn down contact too. You don't want that from a guy who can only play the slot. It was time to move on.

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