GREEN BAY, Wis. — Davon House understood his situation with the Green Bay Packers. He was a cog in the machine of a franchise that posted a 46-17-1 record since drafting him in the fourth round in 2011. House started 14 games along the way, but he never felt like an integral piece of the process.
When the Jacksonville Jaguars were the first of seven teams to discuss possible offers with House in free agency, he loved what that opportunity represented. Not only did the Jaguars quickly make their intentions known once the NFL’s legal tampering window opened, they made sure to let the 25-year-old cornerback know just how much he’d mean to the rebuilding Jacksonville franchise.
"When I’m in Green Bay, I’m just another guy," House told FOXSportsWisconsin.com. "They’ve won their Super Bowls, and we always were really good there. But I was just another guy there. With Jacksonville, when we start winning, I think the city is going to turn around and guys from our free-agent class are going to get credit for how we turned things around."
The Jaguars offered House a four-year, $25 million deal with $10 million guaranteed. House also received offers from the Minnesota Vikings, Chicago Bears, Seattle Seahawks, Philadelphia Eagles and Oakland Raiders.
Even after being informed of those contract numbers, the Packers were only willing to go as high as four years, $17 million with $5 million guaranteed.
"I was surprised with that, because (Green Bay) has seen what I can do," House said. "They know what I can do more than anyone. They were with me every day. Usually knowing that Green Bay tries very hard to keep their draft picks so that they don’t have to go outside to bring guys in, I swear I was going to be a Packer for the next three or four years."
But when Green Bay wouldn’t get closer to matching Jacksonville’s offer, House said it was "an easy decision" to make.
"Football doesn’t last forever," House said. "It might last another six or seven years for me, then I have to find another job. It’s business. But aside from business, I wanted to be in Green Bay. My family had a great church there, my son was born there.
"Things didn’t pan out the way we wanted it to be. But more than just financial-wise, I just felt like Jacksonville was committed to us from the start."
One thing the Packers couldn’t offer House was a promise to be the top cornerback on the depth chart. House wanted to face the best wide receivers in the league one-on-one, and with Sam Shields signed to a four-year, $39 million deal and Casey Hayward still ascending, Green Bay wasn’t the place for him to play that role.
Jacksonville, however, wanted House to be its starting outside cornerback and draw the top receiver matchups on a weekly basis.
"I can be their No. 1 guy in their secondary," House said of the Jaguars. "I feel I can help out tremendously with my winning experience, my qualities of leadership. I feel I can go out there and do a tremendous job being a No. 1 corner; not just a sub-package corner."
House’s new defensive backs coach in Jacksonville, DeWayne Walker, also happened to be his head coach at New Mexico State. And like House’s time in college, he knows he’ll have doubters who believe he can’t get the job done if covering the best wide receivers.
"Whenever we played a top receiver, I wanted him, to show the world what I can do," House said. "People would say, ‘Yeah, you’re playing at New Mexico State, you’re not that good.’ That wasn’t the case. Then in the NFL people would look at me and say, ‘He was a sub-package guy.’
"It will be fun showing the world that I’m a No. 1 corner."
House has played 1,262 total defensive snaps in his four NFL seasons. One reason for that snap count not being higher is that House suffered a shoulder injury in the 2012 preseason (at a time when he was on the verge of potentially claiming a starting job) and then fractured his scapula in 2014 when battling with Julio Jones in the end zone.
I felt like I did all I can do in Green Bay with the role I was given. I thought I did a tremendous job at it. My time in Green Bay was wonderful.
House finished his Packers career with two interceptions and 25 passes defensed.
"I felt like I did all I can do in Green Bay with the role I was given," House said. "I thought I did a tremendous job at it. My time in Green Bay was wonderful. They were the only team that gave me a chance to play in the NFL my first four years. I will be forever thankful for that. I can always say my career started in Green Bay and I was proud of it."
Now as House transitions to a team that has a 14-50 record over the past four seasons, he’s ready to help make the Jaguars an up-and-coming franchise.
"I most definitely expect a winning season in Jacksonville this year," House said.