In the first hour of free agency, despite the uncertainty around quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ future, the Green Bay Packers were able to retain one of their most sought-after players: kick returner Keisean Nixon. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, Nixon has agreed to terms on a one-year deal to remain a Packer that has a max worth of $6 million. The assumption based on the wording of Rapoport’s tweet is that at least some of that $6 million will come with incentives tied to the other end.
Nixon was brought to Green Bay originally after he was waived from the Las Vegas Raiders last March. Previously, Nixon had played under current Packers special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia when the two were together with the Raiders. Bisaccia, who turned around Green Bay’s special teams unit last year, recently was named assistant head coach of the team after taking a head coaching interview for the Indianapolis Colts’ vacancy this offseason.
Nixon took over as the Packers’ primary kick returner in Week 8, when he displaced receiver Amari Rodgers at the position. In a half-season of play, the South Carolina product registered 35 kick returns for 1,009 yards and a touchdown. Nixon also returned 11 punts for 140 yards while splitting time at the punt return position with receiver Randall Cobb — who is set to be a free agent when the new league year starts on Wednesday.
Beyond special teams, Nixon has also been a contributor on the defensive side of the ball. Nixon, primarily playing the slot position, is officially listed as a cornerback by Green Bay. Last season, he played 289 defensive snaps (28 percent of total defensive snaps) and made four starts on the defensive end. From Week 12 to Week 15, Nixon made three starts and played 148 total defensive snaps (49 snaps per game) including every single defensive snap against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 15. In Week 16, Nixon went down with a groin injury and was limited to just 22 total snaps over the final three games of the season, with 15 of those reps coming as a returner.
With safeties Adrian Amos and Rudy Ford on expiring contracts, there’s a good chance that Nixon is more involved defensively in 2023 than he was during the 2022 season. Either way, Packers fans should be excited that their First-Team All-Pro returner is coming back to play in green and gold for at least one more year.