GREEN BAY — When Mike McCarthy introduced his reconfigured staff last week, the Green Bay Packers head coach did so with one position still uncertain: Whether longtime safeties coach Darren Perry would return or not.
On Monday, that answer came. Perry and the Packers parted ways, with the team announcing that Perry would pursue other opportunities.
Perry was still under contract with the Packers, but after being one of the three in-house candidates to interview for the team’s defensive coordinator position — which went to ex-Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine — Perry was let out of his contract by McCarthy, according to an NFL source.
The other two internal candidates for the position — cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt and linebackers coach Winston Moss — both ended up staying on the Packers’ staff, with Moss continuing with his additional assistant head coach title and Whitt getting a promotion to the newly created defensive pass-game coordinator position.
McCarthy indicated when the new staff was publicly announced last week that he wanted Perry to stay, but he acknowledged that Perry might move on.
“We will probably have his situation rectified by the end of the week. I’m speaking with Darren today,” McCarthy said on Wednesday. “Actually, we had a big, full staff meeting with our analytics group and Darren was in that today. So we’ll have his status hopefully cleared up by the end of the week.”
Perry was reportedly a candidate for Tennessee’s defensive coordinator position. The Titans, though, hired Dean Pees on Monday.
In announcing Perry’s departure, McCarthy thanked him for his “dedication to the Packers over the last nine years.”
Perry helped develop former Packers safety Nick Collins into a three-time Pro Bowl selection and also coached Micah Hyde, who earned Pro Bowl recognition in 2017 with the Buffalo Bills after the Packers opted not to re-sign him in free agency last March. Perry has also tutored versatile veteran safety Morgan Burnett, who is set to become a free agent this spring, and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, who earned his first Pro Bowl berth in 2016 but didn’t have the same impact this past season.
Perry joined the Packers in 2009 when McCarthy hired Dom Capers as defensive coordinator. He had played safety for Capers with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
McCarthy is not expected to add another coach to replace Perry. When he reconfigured his staff, McCarthy shifted Jason Simmons, who had been the team’s assistant special teams coach, to defense and gave him the title of secondary coach. That means Simmons, who played cornerback and was a special-teams standout with the Steelers and Houston Texans as a player, can coach both cornerbacks and safeties.
In addition, with Whitt’s new role as pass-game coordinator, the cornerbacks, safeties and linebackers will all be meeting together when it comes to pass-coverage game-planning during the season.
Asked last week to explain how the structure will work, Whitt said position coaches will focus on fundamentals and techniques with players while he’ll be charged with installations. Whitt will also continue to coach cornerbacks during drills, as he has for the past nine seasons.
“I'm going to really just (be in charge of) the back end, so that everybody can hear one voice putting it in,” Whitt explained. “The whole secondary will be together the whole time, along with the linebackers. They'll hear one voice putting it in. We're on the same page with everything. Then (it will) allow the individual coaches to go from there and coach the details of their positions.”