Each winter, Acme Packing Company breaks down the Green Bay Packers’ roster from the previous year by position to examine the team’s performance and needs in the offseason. We continue our look at the safeties.
Brian Gutekunst spent the offseason remaking the Green Bay Packers' defense. Every major player acquisition avenue available to the team was spent on defense with the additions of the Smiths and Adrian Amos in free agency, and Darnell Savage and Rashan Gary in the draft. It’s no coincidence that two of the five are safeties.
The Green Bay safeties have been so bad for so long that an infusion of talent was desperately needed. Long considered to be one of the least essential positions on defense along with inside linebacker, dealing with the multiple looks of modern offenses requires players of immense versatility, and you can only get that at safety. Research by Pro Football Focus backs up the idea that the position is now quite important.
The Packer defense still has its issues, but the safety spot is as solid as can be with two new starters who complement each other perfectly, locking things down and bailing out the corners.
How acquired: Drafted in the first round of the 2019 draft (21st overall).
Savage played in 14 games, and when he was healthy, he was clearly one of the best players on the field. His health coincided with some of the best defensive efforts the Packers had all season, and his presence is key if the defense is going to succeed.
Savage possesses elite speed for a safety and it shows up on the field. He’s often first to the ball in the secondary, and he’s not shy about laying on a big hit. That tendency can work against him, as he was not healthy for much of the season even though he only missed two games, and offensive coordinators learned to take advantage of his undisciplined nature.
His numbers are modest, with two picks, five passes defended, and two forced fumbles, but they also reflect how well-rounded he already is. Savage can play any role in the secondary, and he will be called on to do so frequently against modern offenses.
All of Savage’s issues (aside from health) are correctable with experience. They are typical of a young player, and Mike Pettine’s biggest challenge will be harnessing his aggressiveness when appropriate. Savage has the talent to be the best safety in the league. As it stands now, he is still a pretty good one.
How acquired: Signed as a free agent for four years, $36,000,000, with $12,000,000 guaranteed.
Amos got off to a great start with a game-sealing interception against his former team in week one. Picks aren’t really his game, though he had two huge interceptions on the season to go along with 8 passes defended, 3rd best on the team. Amos is at his best when he’s going downhill and wrapping up ball carriers. He is underrated as an athlete, and perfectly adequate in coverage when called upon to do so, but everyone has a specialty, and he is at his best playing as a true safety, keping the game in front of him, and finishing the play.
Amos is the type of reliable player that every defense needs. There are flashier safeties, and Amos can struggle if he finds in the wrong matchup, but overall he can be counted on to execute properly, be in the right space, and on occasion, make a spectacular play. He is signed for the duration of his prime and if push comes to shove, he can be released or traded with minimal cap consequences after this upcoming season.
How acquired: Signed as a free agent for one year, $725,000.
The selling point on Campbell is versatility. As a bigger safety the hope was that he could fill the void left by Raven Greene. Campbell played in seven games, starting three, but never really flashed the potential at hybrid ILB that some saw. This isn’t that surprising as Campbell is quite the journeyman, and has stuck in the league mostly as special teams fodder. He’s fine as a depth piece, but the ceiling is pretty low at this point. He’s a free agent, and it’s an open question as to whether he’ll be back.
Amos and Savage should provide a dynamic duo for years to come, but depth is lacking as it often is in the NFL, and the team still has some work to do to turn the secondary into a well-functioning, cohesive unit. At least they have a nice foundation to build from.