GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers have now lost two free agents, and neither departure was a surprise.
In a text message on Sunday, Hayward said he wasn’t sure whether the Packers ever made an offer, but it sounds like they did not.
“I told my agent to let me know when numbers come [in] from teams,” Hayward said.
Just like with Tolzien, the Packers were prepared to move on without Hayward even though he played more snaps (1,042 or 88.1 percent of the defensive snaps) than any Green Bay cornerback last season.
And just like with Tolzien, some members of the 2015 rookie class allowed the Packers to move on. Brett Hundley, a fifth-round pick last year, played so well as the No. 3 quarterback in the preseason last summer that the Packers feel comfortable with him as Aaron Rodgers’ backup.
A trio of 2015 rookies -- including first-round pick Damarious Randall and second-rounder Quinten Rollins -- allowed general manager Ted Thompson to let Hayward walk. Those two, combined with former undrafted rookie LaDarius Gunter, give the Packers plenty of quality depth in the secondary. They’re also still hopeful 2014 sixth-round draft pick Demetri Goodson turns into more than just a special-teams player, and they also have Robertson Daniel, another corner who was promoted from the practice squad during the playoffs.
“I like our young guys, especially our young guys in the secondary,” defensive coordinator Dom Capers said shortly after the season. “They gained a lot of experience. I mean Randall played over three quarters probably of the plays [actually 73.5 percent]. Rollins played a lot for us. I think those guys will come back in much better prepared.
“With an offseason and the experience they gained this year, I feel good about both of those young guys. You normally see those guys take a pretty good step from year one to year two. We would expect that, especially with both of them, with their backgrounds. With Randall having played safety and then moving out to play corner; Rollins having primarily a basketball background, and we moved him around to where he played outside.”
The Packers used Hayward both in the slot and on the outside last season until Randall emerged midway through the year as a full-time starter. At that point, Hayward moved back to an inside role until late in the season, when Sam Shields sustained a concussion.
“That was my role, [to] start outside and when we go nickel go inside,” Hayward said shortly after the season. “I kind of knew going in that’s how it would be. We played so much nickel that people didn’t see me as much outside even though I started outside pretty much the whole season. I think I did well. I think I prepared well. I think I handled every situation well. I’m kind of proud of myself for doing everything right. “
With Shields and Randall on the outside, the Packers could use Rollins on the inside in the nickel or dime. They also have safety Micah Hyde, who has played the inside slot position in both of the sub packages. Goodson and Gunter both are more suited to play on the outside.
Thompson drafted the two cornerbacks back-to-back after he let Tramon Williams and Davon House leave in free agency last offseason. Randall and Rollins combined to play more than 1,200 defensive snaps last season.
The Packers have re-signed three key members of their defense (linemen Mike Daniels and Letroy Guion plus outside linebacker Nick Perry) but still have decisions to make on two others (defensive tackle B.J. Raji and outside linebacker Mike Neal) who remain unsigned.