GREEN BAY - With their cornerback unit in need of serious help, the Green Bay Packers have expressed interest in street free agent Davon House, according to a source.
The Jacksonville Jaguars released House on Monday, less than two years after he signed a four-year, $24.5 million contract with $10 million in guaranteed money. House was due to make $6 million in each of the next two seasons.
Because he was released, House can sign with a new team at any time. He does not have to wait until free agency officially opens Thursday at 4 p.m. EST. (For players who are unrestricted free agents, the window of March 7-9 serves only as a negotiating period.)
The familiarity between House and the Packers makes the inquiry by general manager Ted Thompson far from surprising. Thompson selected House in the fourth round of the 2011 draft, and House spent the first four years of his career in Green Bay. He made two interceptions in 40 games with the Packers.
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Though House departed in free agency after the 2014 season, the roots of his relationship with both the front office and coaching staff likely make him an attractive option at the right price. The Packers ranked 31st in the NFL in passing yards allowed last season, and the release of veteran Sam Shields leaves the cornerback unit in need of veteran leadership. House, 27, could fit that role for cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt Jr., who relied on a trio of second-year players — Damarious Randall, Quinten Rollins, LaDarius Gunter — for the majority of the year.
The more relevant questions are probably about House’s level of play. He set a single-season franchise record for the Jaguars with 23 pass breakups in 2015 but lost his starting spot after just a few weeks last year. The downturn in performance coupled with an inflated salary ultimately led to his release.
Even if the Packers sign House, the smart money should be placed on Thompson drafting at least one cornerback next month. Personnel men around the league believe this is one of the best classes in recent memory with the potential for five or more first-round picks. There will be good players available well into the middle rounds.
“This is probably the best group of corners that I’ve done in years and years,” said an executive in personnel for an NFL team with more than 20 years of scouting experience. “I see seven (first-rounders) for sure, and then there will always be a surprise in there.”
Thomas gets offer: Linebacker Joe Thomas, a workhorse on defense and special teams last season, received an exclusive rights free-agent tender and will re-sign with the Packers, his agent Brian Anderson said.
Thomas played 58 percent of the regular-season defensive snaps at inside linebacker, serving as the single backer in the dime coverage and as one of two inside in the nickel. He also played 42 percent of the snaps on special teams.
Thomas, who started seven games, had 70 tackles, five pass break-ups and an interception. His one-year deal is for $615,000.
Back again: Defensive end Christian Ringo will sign an exclusive rights deal with the Packers, according to a source, keeping the former sixth-round pick in Green Bay for another season.
Ringo, who played at Louisiana-Lafayette, made the 53-man roster in 2016 after spending his rookie season on the practice squad. He appeared in eight games and played 75 total snaps.
While he did not register a pressure, Ringo had the only forced fumble by a defensive lineman this season.
The minimum salary for a player with one accrued season will be $540,000 in 2017.
Tom Silverstein and Bob McGinn of the Journal Sentinel contributed to this report.