Jeff Hafley excited to have Keisean Nixon back as Packers slot CB

Green Bay Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst is excited to finally have “stability” at slot cornerback after re-signing Keisean Nixon, who played 809 snaps on defense and was the team’s starter in the slot from start to finish in 2023.

Gutekunst said re-signing Nixon was a “high priority” this offseason and also confirmed that new defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley sees Nixon as a fit in his scheme.

“We’re excited about what (Nixon) can do for our defense. I think bringing in Jeff Hafley and give him some time to really study Keisean and make sure that that was a fit was important,” Gutekunst said. “He’s very excited to have him back as well.”

Nixon, who signed a three-year deal to return, produced 80 tackles, six passes defenses, one interception and three tackles for loss over 17 regular season games in 2023. He opened training camp as the starting slot and never gave up the spot in the Packers secondary. And Gutekunst believes Nixon will improve in Year 2 as the starter.

“He did such a good job for us in his first year as a starting nickel, playing that many snaps on defense. We certainly think his best football is ahead of him,” Gutekunst said.

Nixon’s return and the signing of Xavier McKinney should lock in at least three starting spots in the secondary: Nixon in the slot, McKinney as the “post” safety” and Jaire Alexander on the perimeter. Eric Stokes and Carrington Valentine are options opposite Alexander, and the Packers will likely draft at least one corner and one safety.

Gutekunst also expects adding competition in the slot, even if he brought back Nixon to be the anticipated starter in 2024 and likely beyond. The position — which is basically a starting spot in today’s nickel-heavy NFL — is increasingly valuable on every down.

“The nickel position has become more and more important in our league,” Gutekunst said. “Having a guy who can do multiple things, not only cover but be an instinctual guy that can take the ball and also play against the run just because of how much those guys are involved. That position in particular has become more and more valuable…Keisean really fit us, not only as a player but in the locker room as well.”

Story originally appeared on Packers Wire