Over a two week span, Acme Packing Company takes a look at each position group on the Green Bay Packers and provides grades and insight on how they performed in the 2018 season. Today, we examine the safeties, and in this piece we look at the new faces at the position.
Going into 2018 the Packers had major questions at the safety position. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix had been severely underperforming over the past couple seasons and everyone was hoping for a big bounce back season going into a contract year. Kentrell Brice had showed promise in a small sample size in the previous season and was looking to take the next steps in his career progression this year. Both ended in a dud.
Clinton-Dix was traded to Washington at the trade deadline and Brice played poorly and was replaced after week ten. As for replacements, the Packers turned to a variety of newcomers to patch together the back end of the secondary.
How acquired: Signed a two-year $10 million contract, including $4.75 millions guaranteed and a $3.75 million signing bonus
Stats: 16 games started (7 at cornerback, 9 at safety) 54 tackles, one fumble recovery, two passes defended
Tramon Williams was brought back to Green Bay as a veteran presence to mentor all the young cornerbacks on the roster. He started the first seven games at corner before being flipped to free safety for the rest of the season after the trade of HaHa Clinton-Dix.
Williams was solid in his starts at corner and continued his solid play at safety. While tackling had never been a strong suit for him at corner, he was not afraid to come up and make a tackle near the offensive line or attempt to make a tackle in open space. The most significant improvement that Williams brought was in coverage. While he didn’t grab an interception, he used his cornerback instincts and techniques to take away the deep middle of the field.
While switching to a new position is never easy mid-season, Williams brought stability and consistency to the safety position. Williams is under contract for 2019 but may be a cap casualty as his salary cap hit will be $6.375 million. That may too much to digest if the Packers sign one of the several high end free agent safeties available.
How acquired: Claimed off waivers from the New York Jets on November 5th. Contract is one-year $705,000
Stats: (Dallas, New York Jets and Green Bay) eight games played (one start), 19 tackles, one tackle for loss, one forced fumble
Ibraheim Campbell was claimed by the Packers after releasing punter Drew Kaser. Campbell brought some veteran depth after the trade of Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. While Campbell has never fully caught on with a team yet, the Packers were his third team in 2018, but he brought some familiarity to Mike Pettine’s defense from when the two shared time in Cleveland.
Campbell jumped into Pettine’s defense quickly and became a very good pickup. His snaps and stats increased each week. His best game was his lone start against the Cardinals. He registered most of his season stats with eight tackles, a tackle for loss and a forced fumble. Unfortunately, Campbell was injured in that Cardinals game and was placed on injured reserve on December 4th. Campbell should get strong consideration in being brought back in 2019.
How acquired: Signed a one-year $790,000 contract
Stats: (Arizona and Green Bay) six games played (one start), eight tackles, one tackle for loss
Eddie Pleasant was signed on November 28th after the Packers cut linebacker Korey Toomer. Pleasant was cut by the Cardinals prior to coming to Green Bay and he brought another veteran safety presence and some depth to a depleted roster. His signing proved to be well timed as Ibraheim Campbell went on injured reserve a week later.
While Pleasant didn’t get the playing time that Campbell did, he was a decent backup to have for Josh Jones and Tramon Williams. He was only on the field for 85 snaps and registered minimal stats during his five games in Green Bay. In a not so pleasant memory for him, his most memorable play in Green Bay was the dropped interception against Arizona that would have stopped the drive where Arizona kicked the game winning field goal. With an influx of young safeties signed to futures contracts at the end of the year, the Packers will have to make a decision on whether or not to bring Pleasant back for 2019.
How acquired: Signed as an undrafted rookie: Three years, $1.7 million contract
Stats: five games played, five tackles, one sack, one forced fumble, one pass defensed
Raven Greene had a great training camp and made the initial 53-man roster. While Greene did not get a significant amount of snaps on defense, he did play a large roll on special teams. Greene’s best game of the season came against Miami. Greene played 30 snaps on defense and gained his sack and defensed pass. On December 8th, his season ended on injured reserve with an ankle injury. Greene figures to be a strong member of the special teams going forward and should continue to improve the depth at safety in 2019.