Morgan Burnett, Green Bay Packers Agree to New Deal

Zach Kruse@@zachkruse2Senior Analyst IJuly 16, 2013

The Green Bay Packers and safety Morgan Burnett have agreed to a four-year extension that will keep the 24-year-old in Green Bay through the 2017 season, according to Ian Rapoport of 

The new deal is worth $24.75 million (up to $26 million with incentives) and has $8.25 million in guaranteed money, per Rapoport. Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports later reported that the $8.25 million is in the form of a signing bonus, while Burnett will earn $15 million in the deal's first two seasons. 

Burnett, a third-round pick of the Packers in 2010, was entering the final year of his rookie contract, which was scheduled to pay him just $1.323 million in base salary. He'll now make roughly $26 million over the next five years, with the extension running out following the 2017 season. 

The total money will put Burnett just outside the top 10 safeties in average salary over the length of the deal, per Spotrac.

Despite turning just 24 in January, Burnett has started all 32 games for the Packers over the last two seasons. He led Green Bay in tackles last season with 123, which was also the most by an NFL safety. Over the last two seasons, only Antoine Bethea of the Indianapolis Colts has more total tackles from the safety position. 

Burnett appears to be ascending in all areas of safety play. 

According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Burnett improved from the No. 29 safety in 2011 to No. 16 in 2012. He finished last season with the fifth-most "stops" at the position, which PFF defines as a tackle that results in an offensive failure. 

In addition to his tackling skills, Burnett has also produced five interceptions, four forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and 16 pass breakups over the last two seasons. 

He lost 12 games during his rookie season after tearing his ACL, but he was an immediate starter for a defense that later went on to win the Super Bowl.

With Nick Collins (neck) and Charles Woodson (released) no longer on the roster, Burnett is now the unquestioned leader of the Packers secondary. No other safety in Green Bay is as reliable or has his experience.

Green Bay obviously wasn't comfortable letting the young safety play 2013 without the security of a long-term deal, and Burnett might have taken less money overall to ensure he has a home past next season. 

The Packers also get the benefit of crossing off one free agent from an extensive list that is scheduled to hit the open market following this season. With Burnett now signed, Green Bay can turn its attention to the likes of B.J. Raji, Sam Shields, Jermichael Finley and James Jones, who are each unrestricted free agents next spring. 

At just 24 years old, Burnett should be entering the prime of his NFL career. The Packers acted aggressively to get him locked up long term and will now hope this deal stands as a team-friendly one on an ascending and reliable player.