The Green Bay Packers need help against the run and Mike Daniels is still available. At this point a reunion just makes sense.
Although this Green Bay Packers’ defense would rank ninth in points per game allowed last season, there is no way to sugarcoat it, the run defense for most of the season was a huge liability.
Of course the NFC Championship Game is what we are all going to remember the most, but even before then, Green Bay gave up 120.1 rushing yards per game during the regular season which ranked 23rd in the NFL. In fact, in six of their games they gave up at least 149 rushing yards to their opponents.
However, despite their inability to slow the run in 2019, this offseason the Packers wouldn’t make any key additions to the interior defensive line. So it’s fair to wonder; who is going to step up and provide Kenny Clark some help in 2020?
Montravius Adams – who we just learned was arrested earlier this week – has rarely seen the field and is a cut candidate this summer. Meanwhile, Tyler Lancaster is more effective in small doses, we hope Kingsley Keke takes a step forward but that remains to be seen, and Treyvon Hester is on his fourth team in as many seasons.
But one name that is still available on the free-agent market and is a name that Green Bay Packers fans are familiar with is Mike Daniels.
Now, I’ll start by saying that by no means should we expect Daniels to step in and be the difference-maker that this defense needs against the run. But rather he would provide a steady, veteran presence who if healthy, can give a much-needed boost against the run. And truthfully, I have more confidence in him than the other players previously mentioned, except for maybe Keke, but he still has to prove himself.
Having just turned 31-years-old, the biggest concern with Daniels is his recent injury history. Over the past two seasons with Green Bay and Detroit, Daniels has played in just 19 total games primarily due to a foot injury, which can be something that continues to linger.
Of course, the Green Bay Packers will have to do their due diligence in making sure that he is good to go before signing him to a contract, but prior to the 2018 season, injuries weren’t a part of Daniels’ career. Through his first six seasons, he would miss just four combined games.
The hope would be that if Daniels’ foot is in better shape than what it has been, that we would see him making plays as he used to along Green Bay’s interior. Although probably not nearly as often.
It’s also worth pointing out that with Clark, Dean Lowry and also Za’Darius Smith lining up inside here and there, this time around with the Packers Daniels wouldn’t have to be “the guy.” Instead, he will be more of a rotational player whose job will be to help stop the run. And by taking fewer snaps, in theory, that’s less wear and tear on his body.
So with that out of the way, let’s focus on what Daniels can do on the field: help stop the run.
From 2015 through 2017 when Daniels was healthy, he was one of the better interior run defenders in the NFL. By Pro Football Focus’ run stop metric which measures tackles that result in a loss for the offense, during the 2015, 2016, and 2017 seasons, Daniels ranked 15th, 23rd, and 17th respectively, among all interior defensive tackles in total run stops.
In terms of run stop percentage, which measures how efficient a player is at making those run stops, Daniels once again was one of the better interior defensive linemen by that metric, ranking between 18th and 21st all three seasons.
Want an added bonus? Daniels was also excellent at getting after the quarterback during that span as well. Finishing as high as 12th in total pressures among all defensive linemen.
In terms of what it will cost to sign Daniels, we know that Green Bay doesn’t have much spendable cap space this offseason, but at 31-years-old and coming off of two injury-riddled seasons, Daniels isn’t going to break the bank either. Likely the Packers could bring him in on a relatively inexpensive deal that they could get out of if things go south this summer or at any point this season.
And take it for what it’s worth considering that he still is a free agent, but in an interview with SiriusXM Radio recently, Daniels spoke very positively about returning to Green Bay:
“I’d definitely love to go back to Green Bay. That’s my home,” Daniels said. “I’ve been there when I played there for seven years, I had a really stellar career there and that’s definitely a team I would love to go back to.”
As I’ve already said, Daniels isn’t going to come in and transform this Green Bay Packers’ run defense into a powerhouse. In fact, our expectations shouldn’t even be that we are going to see the Mike Daniels of old in 2020.
However, if he is healthy he can provide Green Bay with another rotational run defender that they can add to the mix and when comparing him to players like Adams, Lancaster, and Hester, he is likely going to be an upgrade. So why not?