The Green Bay Packers' outside linebacker unit has been hit hard by injuries over the past few years. One of the stabilizing factors at that position in 2013 was actually someone who was not expected to play linebacker at all. Former defensive end Mike Neal received some additional training at linebacker to maximize his pass-rushing abilities, but he was forced into full-time duty at the position and started ten games there in 2013.
As Neal's rookie contract expires, he will hit free agency for the first time in 2014. He has expressed an interest in coming back to Green Bay, though. The team's decision on Neal may depend on how they view his position moving forward - whether that is at linebacker or back at defensive end.
Here are the critical details on Neal.
16 games played, 10 starts (all at OLB)
50 tackles (39 solo), 5.0 sacks, one interception, one forced fumble
Final year of four-year, $3.1 million rookie contract
2013 compensation: $630,000 base salary
36 games played, 11 starts (10 at OLB, 1 at DE)
68 total tackles (52 solo), 10.5 sacks, one interception, two forced fumbles
2010 NFL Draft: second-round pick (#56 overall)