GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman announced Friday that the Green Bay Packers "will match" the Detroit Lions' offer sheet to linebacker Na'il Diggs, a restricted free agent, and that the fourth-year professional thus will remain in a Green Bay uniform.
"He is a very valuable member of our defense as well as our football team," Sherman said. "I had an excellent conversation with him this morning, expressing to him my feelings about him and his importance to us. We have a lot of great men on this football team and he is one of them. He is relieved this is now resolved and is looking forward toward having a great season.
"There have been some sources out there that have suggested that Na'il Diggs was less than happy as a Green Bay Packer," Sherman added. "In my conversations with Na'il, this message has not been communicated to me, so I do not put much stock in second-hand comments. I must admit, however, that this process has been a positive one since it has become completely clear to Na'il where he stands with me, and what I see as his role on this football team. He has played and will continue to play a very significant part in our success…I'm determined to not let good players leave the Green Bay Packers and Na'il Diggs is one of those players."
Diggs said, "Green Bay has been the only NFL home I have known in my career and I am fortunate to play for an outstanding organization and community with the best fans in the League. I look forward to continue playing for one of the most storied franchises in professional sports and to further add to the rich tradition of excellence with the Packer family. My only focus is to help the Packers win a Super Bowl title and to become the best football player I can be."
The 6-4, 238-pound Diggs was one of the most consistent and productive performers on Green Bay's defense in 2002, starting all 16 games for the second straight year, as well as the Packers' Wild Card playoff game against Atlanta (Jan. 4), and participating in 1,038 plays, second-most on the Green Bay roster.
Along the way, he held the opposing team's starting tight end to just 15 pass receptions over the first 11 games – shutting out four of them in the process – and went on to close out the year ranking second on the team in stops with a career-high 111 (his first 100-tackle year), including a career-best 3 quarterback sacks.
The 24-year-old Ohio State alumnus complemented those contributions with 2 interceptions, 1 forced fumble, 2 fumble recoveries, a career-high 7 passes defensed and 1 stop on kick coverage.
Finishing the season with an impressive surge, Diggs proceeded to win NFC "Defensive Player of the Month" honors during the Packers' 4-1 December, amassing 37 tackles (30 solo) and adding 1 interception, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery and 2 passes defensed during the season's final month, while making several game-turning plays in the process.
En route, he matched his season best with a team-leading 10 tackles in a 10-0 victory over Buffalo (Dec. 22). He also triggered a pair of first-half turnovers, first forcing Bills running back Travis Henry to fumble, then later intercepting quarterback Drew Bledsoe.
Diggs earlier had made a huge play in the Packers' come-from-behind victory over Minnesota (Dec. 8), sweeping around a pair of Vikings defenders to fell running back Michael Bennett on a third-down screen pass, thus getting the ball back for the Packers to go on their game-winning drive in a 26-22 win.
If the Packers had elected not to match the Detroit offer to Diggs, the Lions would have owed Green Bay a fourth-round selection in next month's NFL draft.