House would like to stay in Green Bay, but also wants to be starter
GREEN BAY, Wis. — Davon House believes he’s done plenty in his first four NFL seasons to show the Green Bay Packers — and every other team — that he deserves to be a full-time starting outside cornerback. As House prepares to hit unrestricted free agency in March, he’ll soon find out whether there is at least one front office in the league that agrees with him.
If a team needs any convincing that House’s opinion of himself is accurate, there were moments during the 2014 season that he would like them to watch.
"Me versus Julio," House said, referencing his Week 14 fourth-quarter showdown with Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones, who already had more than 200 yards in that game before the Packers went with him over Sam Shields.
"I’ll just tell ’em to watch the game, and I’ll just say ‘Watch how the momentum swings,’" House continued. "Watch the difference when I’m in there. When I was in there it was man-to-man coverage, no help over the top. That and New England (in Week 13) when Sam goes down and I get thrown in the fire against one of the best quarterbacks in the league and watch how I perform."
House’s physical style affected Jones when nothing else in that game had worked against the two-time Pro Bowl receiver. House had two pass breakups, including one in the end zone that injured both himself and Jones. House missed the final three regular-season games and only played on special teams during the playoffs.
It was his special-teams-only role in the postseason that had House frustrated. It made House wonder a bit why Green Bay’s coaching staff didn’t trust him with defensive snaps after he fought his way back from a fractured scapula that occurred on the play against Jones.
"Dream would be to stay here, if they want me," House said. "I know I can start in this league. It’s what I want to do is start. It sucks, like Seahawks in overtime, and I’m not on defense, and it hurts. We lose the game and it’s like, I feel like I could’ve done something, but I’m on the sideline, playing special teams."
When House says his preference is to remain with the Packers, it’s not because he’s trying to say the right thing. It’s obvious that he really means it, having heard plenty from players across the league that more than indicate the grass likely isn’t greener elsewhere.
"Why wouldn’t you want to be on this team?," House said. "I love winning. I love Green Bay. And the bad stories I hear about some of the other teams out there about just how everything’s run, this is like maid service. This is first class. I’m so used to this that I really don’t want to drop down where freakin’ December 28 the season is over with."
House knows it will likely come down to Green Bay either re-signing him or Tramon Williams. The Packers gave a four-year, $39 million contract to Sam Shields last offseason, and Casey Hayward’s rookie deal will expire at the end of the 2015 season.
Williams represents a steady veteran consistency, but possibly a player who could soon be on his way down. House represents a player who has only two career interceptions but is also only 25 years old and should still be ascending.
"Me and Tramon are close; really close," House said. "We always talk about it. In a perfect world, we both would come back. But there’s only two starting corners on each team. And Tramon’s well deserving. I feel like my potential is pretty high."
House has started a total of 14 games since being drafted by Green Bay in the fourth round in 2011. However, it’s never been more than five games started in any one season. He was on the road to becoming a full-time starter in 2012 before a preseason shoulder injury set him back.
But as House reflects on his NFL career so far, he feels good about what he’s done and even better about what he could do.
"To me, I would say I’d give my potential a B-plus (or) A," House said, grading himself. "Then the four years of me being here I’d say a solid B. Just for the fact that I’ve came in in huge games when players got hurt and whatnot and stepped in and played like we didn’t miss a beat. Played like a starter, I guess you could say. Did a great job on special teams. When my name was called on defense, it was like special teams and defense, and that’s not easy to do.
"I’m excited to see what brings in the years to come when I’m a full-time starter. Me playing 16 games, I can see myself easily getting three, four picks a year with 18, 19 pass breakups. I started four, five games this year and had 10 pass breakups. I’m excited to see what that holds."
Mostly, House just hopes that teams don’t view his talent as that of a backup, even if that is mostly what his role has been.
"When a starting corner gets hurt and someone else comes in, it’s, ‘OK, the backup is in,’" House said. "’He’s not better than the starter, he’s not a starter, that’s why he’s a backup. He’s not that good. That’s why he’s in the game now, because someone get hurt.’ I don’t know if the outside teams look at that at me, but I think in here we look at it like, ‘House is a quality player and he can start in this league, and if someone does get hurt we have another starter coming in.’
"I think Green Bay knows what they have in me. I don’t know if other teams do, if that makes sense."
The type of contract that House commands in free agency if he hits the open market remains to be seen. If teams agree that his potential is between a B-plus and A and that his production has been a solid B, especially as a player who should be entering the prime of his career, House could get paid well. But there’s not nearly the track record there with him like there is with Williams.
"If I’m starting, I think I should get starting pay," House said. "I’m not about to start for a team and it’s three years for $5 million, or three years for $6 million, because then they’re winning and I’m losing, and (I’d be) starting, too."
If House does get a comparable offer from the Packers and another team, expect him to be back in Green Bay next season.
"Most definitely want to play here; that’s what I want," he said. "I’m not about to go and come play here for free. I don’t want to get too into details of what would I take or whatnot, (but) if there’s not a big difference of course I’m going to be here."
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