Cornerback Davon House agrees to one-year deal to return to Packers
GREEN BAY – To give new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine some starting experience at cornerback and provide the locker room with more steady veteran leadership, Green Bay Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst has brought back another familiar face.
Three weeks after reuniting with Tramon Williams, Gutekunst has agreed to terms with free-agent veteran Davon House on a one-year deal, an NFL source said. Terms of the deal were not available, but it isn't expected to stress the team's salary cap.
The deal is contingent on House passing a physical exam.
The 28-year-old House started 12 games last season and played 62.7 percent of the defensive snaps, second only to Damarious Randall’s 68.7 percent. House fought through hamstring, thigh, back and shoulder injuries during his return to the Packers after spending two seasons in Jacksonville, but was a first-teamer when healthy.
The Packers brought back Williams three years after he left for a free-agent deal in Cleveland, comfortable with his talents and potential to help groom a number of young cornerbacks Gutekunst is expected to acquire through the draft.
House was an excellent locker room influence on the young cornerbacks last season, particularly with second-round pick Kevin King, who often spent time picking House’s brain.
King likely will be a starter next season, but if House can stay healthy, he fits Pettine’s preference for bump-and-run corners and could be a regular again. House didn’t miss a game in two seasons in Jacksonville, but in five years with the Packers (2011-14, ’17) he has missed 15 games due to injury.
In his 12 games last season, House gave up three touchdown passes and tied with Randall for most passes of 20 or more yards allowed with five. He finished with four missed tackles, which was the second-fewest of any of the team’s defensive backs who played at least 15 percent of the defensive snaps.
Despite his injuries, House never missed more than two games in a row and played two weeks after breaking the transverse process in his back against the Cleveland Browns. With nothing to gain in the season finale and plenty of reasons to play it safe, House returned against the Detroit Lions after reinjuring his shoulder.
Drafted by the Packers in the fourth round in 2011, House started 14 games in his first four seasons with the Packers. In 2015, he signed a four-year, $24.5 million deal with the Jaguars.
House had his best season in ’15, starting all but one game and finishing with a league-high 23 pass break-ups and four interceptions. The following year, the Jaguars changed to more of a zone-coverage scheme and he started just four games.
The Jaguars cut House in the offseason and the Packers signed him to a one-year, $2.8 million contract that included an $850,000 signing bonus.
House expressed then and again after last season a desire to play for the Packers. He was in Pittsburgh on an official free-agent visit when he agreed to terms with the Packers last year and this time around had been spending his offseason in Hawaii.
Williams signed a two-year deal worth $10 million that included a $3.25 million signing bonus. It will pay him $5.25 million total in 2018 if he makes the opening week 53-man roster.
The Packers don’t have much experience behind House and Williams after trading Randall to the Browns. King is their best prospect, and the others, including Quentin Rollins, Josh Hawkins, Lenzy Pipkins and Demetri Goodson, have only a handful of starts between them.
The Packers have been in discussions with multiple free-agent cornerbacks, but the only one for whom they made a competitive offer was transition free agent Kyle Fuller. The Chicago Bears matched the Packers’ four-year, $56 million within two hours of the deal becoming public.
The cornerback market has been combed through and the Packers’ best option was someone they knew well. It’s possible they’ll add more cornerbacks as teams trim back their rosters after the draft, but the chances of them making any splash signings or trades appear unlikely.