3:45pm: Hayward will receive $6.8MM in guaranteed money, reports Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Jounal-Sentinel (Twitter link).
2:53pm: The Chargers have agreed to terms with free agent cornerback Casey Hayward, according to Rand Getlin of NFL.com (Twitter link). Hayward will sign a three-year, $15.3MM deal, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.
The 26-year-old Hayward had spent the entirety of his four-year career with the Packers, but 2015 was his first season a full-time starter. Hayward started 11 games, playing 87% of Green Bay’s defensive snaps, and while he didn’t post any interceptions, he did defense six passes, and graded as the league’s No. 16 corner according to Pro Football Focus.
In San Diego, Hayward will join an impressive group of corners that includes Brandon Flowers and Jason Verrett, and while Hayward has shown that he can play on the outside, he’ll likely line up in the slot — where’s he proven to be one the NFL’s truly elite defenders — with the Chargers. The signing of Hayward could be an indication that San Diego is bracing to lose fellow corner Patrick Robinson, who is also an unrestricted free agent, and seems unlikely to return to the Chargers as what would now be their fourth corner.
The Chargers have been relatively active during the free agent period — in the secondary alone, the club also added former Colts safety Dwight Lowery in addition to Hayward. San Diego got stronger on its defensive line with the addition of Brandon Mebane, and on the offensive side of the ball, re-signed veteran tight end Antonio Gates and brought in former Browns wide receiver Travis Benjamin.
Green Bay, meanwhile, will rely on Sam Shields, Damarious Randall, and Quinten Rollins to headline their group of corners for the foreseeable future. The Packers have a history of re-signing their own internal free agents, so it’s a little surprising that they weren’t able to reach an agreement with Hayward, who was not only drafted and developed by Green Bay, but signed for a very reasonable annual value of $5.1MM.
Hayward ranked as PFR’s No. 29 overall free agent, and the No. 4 corner on the market. The options listed ahead of Hayward — Janoris Jenkins, Sean Smith, and Prince Amukamara — have all reached new agreements, leaving Brandon Boykin, Leon Hall, and the aforementioned Robinson as the best remaining cornerbacks available.
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