GREEN BAY, Wis. – Green Bay Packers cornerback Rasul Douglas’ NFL career was reborn during his abbreviated season in Green Bay. He’d love to return, he said on Monday, but understands the dynamics of the situation.
“Of course,” he said about returning to the Packers with a long-term contract. “I built a family here. I’ve still got some unfinished business, I feel like, to handle. Of course, I want to be here. But I don’t think that’s all my decision to make.”
Grabbed off Arizona’s practice squad in the wake of Jaire Alexander’s shoulder injury in early October, Douglas played in 12 games. He led the team and tied for fourth in the NFL with five interceptions.
Of 88 cornerbacks to play at least 50 percent of the defensive snaps, he finished second in passer rating (51.9), seventh in catch percentage (52.2), 11th in forced incompletion percentage (15.0) and 13th in snaps per reception (13.3), according to Pro Football Focus.
It was a remarkable season for Douglas, a third-round pick by Philadelphia in 2017. He wasn’t re-signed by Carolina in free agency last offseason and failed to make the rosters of Las Vegas and Houston during training camp this summer.
“Everything. A lot,” Douglas said of what this season meant for him. “Everything I envisioned. Not the end goal but just my play style, opportunity, coaches, everything. It means a lot to me.”
That appreciation is a two-way street. Without Alexander for the final 13 games, with Kevin King's annual injury problems and inconsistency, and having failed to land former All-Pro Stephon Gilmore at the trade deadline, the Packers badly needed another cornerback to join rookie Eric Stokes. Douglas was a savior. It is hard to imagine the Packers would have gone 13-4 without him.
Douglas played this season under with a league-minimum contract of $990,000. Prorated for his actual time with the team, he earned $661,111. According to OverTheCap.com’s Valuation Diamond, Douglas played like a player who should have earned almost $11 million.
With only two-thirds of a season of elite play under his belt, Douglas faces a fascinating free agency. In his first four NFL seasons, he started 29 games and intercepted five passes. Green Bay was his sixth team. In a case of skill, coaching, scheme and opportunity meshing, he intercepted five passes and led the NFL with two pick-sixes in merely nine starts. The Packers haven’t had a player with more interceptions since Casey Hayward had six in 2012.
“Probably a little bit more (money). But nothing crazy,” Douglas said of his next contract.
The Packers would need one heck of a hometown discount. They are $50 million over the 2022 salary cap, a fact that will challenge the ability to absorb any big contracts. That’s why Douglas said returning to Green Bay was out of his hands.
Douglas said he hasn’t considered his free-agent future, nor has he taken time to reflect on how he’s changed the course of his career. In the heat of the season, he was too focused on the upcoming opponent. Now, the stunning loss to the 49ers is too fresh on his mind.
“Probably when I’m about to use this time to wind down for a little bit, the next few weeks to wind down, I’ll probably think about it,” he said of reflecting on his personal accomplishments. “Right now, anytime I stop doing anything fun or anything with family, I just think about the last time I put on pads. Not yet. I haven’t thought about it yet.”