Over a two week span, Acme Packing Company takes a look at each position group on the Green Bay Packers and provides grades and insight on how they performed in the 2017 season. Today, we examine the outside linebackers.
The Packers have just one free agent among the edge players this season, as starters Clay Matthews and Nick Perry remain under contract along with the team’s group of young reserves.
NFL Experience: 11 years
FA Status: Unrestricted Free Agent
Expiring Contract: One year, $3.5 million
2017 Stats: 12 games played, 5 starts; 20 total tackles, 13 solo; 1.5 sacks; 2 passes defended; 346 defensive snaps (32.8% of team snaps), 13 special teams snaps (3.1%)
When Brooks was released by the 49ers in the late stages of training camp, there was seemingly no better fit for him than with the Packers. Of course, with Ted Thompson driving the Packers’ personnel ship, there was some level of pessimism among Packers fans that he would actually be willing to make the move to bring in the veteran edge rusher.
Brooks was simply not a good fit in the 49ers’ new 4-3 scheme, and Dom Capers’ defense was similar to the Vic Fangio system that Brooks was used to (and in which he had posted good production). With the Packers desperately needing a veteran backup to Clay Matthews and Nick Perry, it made too much sense, and so Brooks did land with the Packers for the 2017 season.
His performance was a mixed bag, however, as he provided some decent plays against the run but only posted 1.5 sacks and 16 total pressures (according to Pro Football Focus). PFF’s pass-rush production stat puts Brooks at 23rd among 26 qualifying edge players who are free agents this offseason and 104th among all edge rushers in the NFL. Meanwhile, his run stop percentage of 8.5% is fifth among the free agent group and 18th overall.
Brooks can still be a useful player for someone in 2018, but it is clear that his pass-rushing skills have eroded somewhat and that he is suited to be a rotational player at best. Expect his next contract to be a one-year deal for perhaps half of what he received in 2017. The Packers could do worse than bringing Brooks back as a reserve once again, but at this point it’s tough to see him worth more than about $1.5 million with minimal guarantees.