Editor's note: Prior to the start of the new league year in March, Press-Gazette Media is counting down the top unrestricted, restricted and exclusive-right free agents the Green Bay Packers will have to decide on this offseason.
Jarrett Bush has been the heart and soul of the Green Bay Packers' special-teams unit for nearly a decade.
A former undrafted free agent out of Utah State, the 6-foot, 200-pound cornerback has played in 137 regular-season games since the Packers claimed him off waivers from Carolina in 2006. He's spent most of his career as a backup on defense, but remains one of the most versatile and knowledge veterans on the roster.
Teammates say his passion for special teams is infectious. It's why he's been voted one of the unit's playoff captains in each of the past four seasons. It's also what allowed him to play out three-year, $5.25 million contract he signed before the 2012 season.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy put a new vision on special teams into motion after a lackluster 2014 season. Coordinator Shawn Slocum was fired last month. Veterans Brad Jones and Brandon Bostick were released last week. The team plans on utilizing more starters on the unit next season, as well.
Only safety Sean Richardson played more snaps on special teams than Bush's 359 last season, but the veteran cornerback turns 31 in May. That's relatively old for a unit that prides itself on youth.
Bush was a good insurance policy on defense. He can play every spot in the secondary and supposedly can be used as an emergency linebacker. When the Packers needed to contain Dallas tight end Jason Witten in the divisional round of the playoffs, defensive coordinator Dom Capers unveiled a quarter package that featured Bush.
Bush made $1.7 million last year, which included a $100,000 workout bonus. The price tag to re-sign Bush should be closer to the league minimum of $970,000. Depending on bonuses, he could be a candidate for the veteran minimum salary benefit.
There's uncertainty for the Packers at cornerback with Tramon Williams and Davon House free agents, but the organization remains high on the five young cornerbacks under contract for next season: Sam Shields, Micah Hyde, Casey Hayward, Demetri Goodson and Tay Glover-Wright.
Goodson, a sixth-round pick out of Baylor, showed promise on special teams. Bush is a savvy and cut down on his penalties in 2014. He's known as a workout warrior and been fairly durable over the course of his career.
Even if Bush is re-signed, he may need to earn a roster spot in training camp, though that scenario isn't much different than what he's done his entire career.
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