Is the tenure of Mike Daniels’ as the Packers’ defensive line anchor and spiritual defensive leader ending after, or even during, his contract year of 2019?
To those who have witnessed the intangible presence of character in the multi-position defensive lineman from Iowa and how it has helped an often-young and very green defense (and we don’t mean the jersey color), that thought isn’t the most pleasing.
But with pause that the NFL is unpredictable, the idea of Daniels leaving could possibly be inevitable..
ESPN’s Bill Barnwell discusses two factors that could limit Daniels’ future with the Packers: Height and salary cap.
One involves the fact that the Packers are acting much like the Milwaukee Bucks in their defensive personnel decisions, focusing on length – something that isn’t necessarily thought of on the forefront of defensive personnel moves, but one which may be of a premium for Mike Pettine’s defense.
Barnwell cites six current Packers interior linemen and edge rushers now on the squad, four of whom came on free agency or draft decisions:
– DT Kenny Clark (6’3″)
– DE Rashan Gary (6’5″)
– DT Kingsley Keke (6’3″)
– DE Dean Lowry (6’5″)
– LB Preston Smith (6’5″)
– LB Za’Darius Smith (6’4″)
Daniels is 6’0″. Above average for the male body, but apparently not for the Packers’ defensive line personnel group.
Then there is the overall salary cap on defense. Barnwell cites how the moves to pick up both Smiths, along with safety Adrian Amos and guard Billy Turner, will mean a $47.8 million cap hit in 2020.
Can they afford keeping Daniels, who will be 31 in 2020?
The argument for keeping him is that intangible quality of character and leadership along with institutional knowledge.
Daniels has been around Lambeau Field since 2012, longer than any member of the defense. He has truly become the defense’s motivational leader on the roster, the emotional driver of the team’s performance.
That knowledge and emotional factor could be intrinsically critical when it comes to the other six, much taller linemen cited above. Those six have just a combined eight years in the Packers’ defense.
Overall, the other eight linemen currently on the Packers’ defensive line depth chart have a combined 18 years of NFL experience.
Daniels’ presence in the locker room may bring even more dividends in performance than what a defensive lineman’s skills would tend to produce after he moves past 30 years old.
And trust me, age won’t necessarily stop the ultra-motor in Daniels’ belly from leading to Pro Bowl-caliber performance.
Is that a worthy enough reason to keep him beyond 2019 at 1265 Lombardi Avenue? That’s Brian Gutekunst’s call, and the realities of the NFL are what they are.
But there are ample reasons to truly discern keeping Daniels for the long term.