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Nick Barnett's Long Term Deal

The Packers signed LB Nick Barnett to a 6 year contract extension worth $35 million. PackerChatters.com said Barnett will receive a $10 million signing bonus, but Tom Silverstein said it won't be a traditional signing bonus and Barnett will be paid $12 million in 2007. It makes sense that the Packers will try and have the extension eat up as much of their unused 2007 cap space as possible. The amount of guaranteed money is less than LB Adalius Thomas ($20 million) but a bit more than LB Napoleon Harris ($7.5 million). No hometown discount, but a market value contract.

Talent wise this makes sense too. Barnett is young, 25, posted over 100 tackles every season, pretty good in pass coverage, and has been healthy. He broke his hand in 2006 and played the last few games in a cast, but that is that's the only blemish. He would have gotten more in free agency next year. Tackle stats aren't the perfect measure of a player's worth, as Mike Tanier says:

it takes a pretty good defender to top 100 tackles. But there's a big problem: tackle totals are highly distorted, and the distortion favors players on bad defenses. That means that the players on top of the tackle leader boards aren’t always the best defenders in the league. Instead, they are often the best players on lousy defenses.
However the Packers defense was the 6th best defense according to Football Outsiders and 2nd best covering the tight end, so Barnett is part of the solution on both accounts.

PackerChatters.com speculated this is a sign that LB Abdul Hodge is the odd man out. The linebacking core is pretty young and cheap at the moment, so having too much depth doesn't crunch the cap at the moment, it gives Hodge more time to learn (if necessary), and I'm still not sold on LB Brady Poppinga.