Addressing their needs at linebacker, the Green Bay Packers have signed former Carolina Panther Hannibal Navies to a multi-year contract as an unrestricted free agent, GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman announced Wednesday.
The 6-3, 237-pound Navies, a fifth-year professional who replaces the departed Nate Wayne, is viewed from the experience perspective as a potential successor to Hardy Nickerson at middle linebacker.
"He can play all three positions, strong, weak-side and middle," Reggie McKenzie, the Packers' director of pro personnel, said of the newcomer, "but we're planning to start him out at middle linebacker."
Navies (pronounced NAY-vees) posted 98 tackles, 64 of them unassisted, while appearing in 39 career games in his four seasons with Carolina. He had opened the 2001 campaign as the Panthers' strongside linebacker, starting five games and recording 26 tackles before seeing his personal season end because of a broken right forearm suffered in a game at Washington (October 21).
The 25-year-old University of Colorado alumnus, a fourth-round selection in the 1999 NFL draft, played in 11 games in 2002, posting 45 tackles - 25 of them solo - before sitting out the last five contests with an ankle injury.
One of the most productive defensive performers in Colorado's football history, Navies closed out his collegiate career ranked eighth in the Buffaloes' annals with 180 solo tackles. En route, he started every game as a senior in 1998 and led the Buffs with 87 tackles, in addition to 2.5 sacks, three stops for a loss, and three quarterback pressures. A year earlier, he earned the team's defensive player of the year award as a junior after starting every game and finishing second on the team with 130 tackles. In the process, he tied the school single-game record for solo tackles with 19 against Missouri and finished the contest with 28 stops, the second highest total in school history.
Navies has been assigned jersey number 50. Fellow linebacker Billy Silva, a rookie player from Northwestern who had held the number, has been re-assigned to 46.