Fans that followed the free-agency frenzy that took place when the market opened in March saw all the big deals as they were announced on mobile app alerts and scrollers at the bottom of the screen on ESPN and NFL Network.
Those fans know that Malik Jackson signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars an Olivier Vernon joined the New York Giants. They’re also aware of the fact that Brock Osweiler is the new quarterback of the Houston Texans, who also signed Lamar Miller away from the Miami Dolphins.
But do those fans know that Casey Hayward signed with the San Diego Chargers? Do they even know who Hayward is?
Hayward is a former second-round pick of the Green Bay Packers. He brings with him plenty of experience, having played in 51 regular season games as a member of the team. He has nine interceptions in four professional seasons, but he’ll bring important depth to the San Diego secondary.
Important free agent signing most people don't care about? Casey Hayward on the #Chargers. If Flowers bounces back, that's a good CB trio
— NFL Spin Zone (@NFLSpinZone) July 17, 2016
Jason Verrett is firmly entrenched as the team’s No.1 cornerback, but Verrett can help the Chargers in two ways.
Brandon Flowers had the worst season of his pro career in 2015 and will need to bounce back in a big way this year. He’ll get every chance to do that, but if he falters, Hayward will be an excellent option to turn to. Even if Flowers returns to form, Hayward has experience as a nickel defender in both college at Vanderbilt, and as a member of the Packers. That said, he should see a healthy diet of defensive snaps this season, giving the Chargers another dynamic defensive back who is more than a suitable replacement for Patrick Robinson, who signed with the Indianapolis Colts as a free agent.
Still just 26 years old, Hayward still has plenty of football in front of him. He established himself as a great cover corner while in Green Bay and he should be considered one of the best slot corners in football. However, it’s his versatility, which allows him to line up on the outside as well, that makes this such a good signing.
On top of all of that, Hayward brings postseason experience with him, having played in six playoff games with the Packers. That’s more than Verrett and Flowers have played in, combined.
Signings such as those of Jackson, Vernon and Osweiler get all the headlines, but often times, it’s those important under-the-radar moves that help lead a team to a championship. The signing of Hayward has all the potential to be just that for general manager Tom Telesco and his team.