Over two weeks, 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 2020 season. We also examine the players from the 2020 roster who are set to be free agents in 2021. Today, we examine the safeties.
Six players took snaps at safety for the Packers in 2020, a fairly even mix of established veterans and young up-and-comers. Barring some unexpected changes, most of that group should look fairly similar in 2021.
Should it? That depends largely on two factors: how the Packers evaluate their safeties internally and what new defensive coordinator Joe Barry intends to do with them. If he intends to do something similar to his predecessor, the Packers may be in need of an upgrade. Barring significant strides from their two least-experienced safeties, the Packers will probably need an addition to the group to maintain the safety-heavy looks favored by Mike Pettine.
But no matter what the Packers do, it appears there will be an opportunity for at least one player already on the roster to take on a bigger role.
NFL Experience: Five accrued seasons
Free Agency Category: Unrestricted
Expiring Contract: One year, $750,000
2020 Stats: 13 games, 28 tackles, one pass defensed
No matter your opinion on Will Redmond, you can’t deny he’s had a long, strange NFL journey. A well-regarded college prospect at corner, his career took a turn when he tore his ACL in practice late in his final collegiate season. He was still thought of highly enough that the 49ers took him in the third round of the 2016 NFL draft, but thanks to injuries old and new he never played a snap for San Francisco. After a stint with the Chiefs, he landed with the Packers in 2018 and has been with them ever since.
Unfortunately for Redmond, he’s been a bit miscast in Mike Pettine’s defense. He’s never really gotten the chance to be just one thing, instead bouncing around through the various hybrid roles Pettine liked for his third safety. He rarely made plays, and Packers’ fans enduring memory of his time in Green Bay will likely be his dropped interception in the NFC Championship.
Outside of his adventures on defense, though, Redmond has been a mainstay on special teams. He played more than 200 snaps on the Packers’ coverage units in 2020, racking up three tackles. He led the Packers in special teams tackles in 2019.
Now an unrestricted free agent, Redmond seems likely to be done in Green Bay. His contributions on special teams are not inconsiderable, but that’s also the most easily replaceable part of his job. With a cap situation that seems likely to be tighter than ever, it seems wise to spend resources elsewhere.
Though the results have rarely been great, Redmond should deserve credit for the perseverance he’s shown just to make it this far. If his time in Green Bay is indeed over, it’s a shame the last — and perhaps only — noteworthy memory of his time with the Packers is a bad one.
NFL Experience: Three accrued seasons
Free Agency Category: Restricted
Expiring Contract: Three years, $1.7 million
2020 Stats: 10 games, 44 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 5 passes defensed
The same contract math that sends Redmond out of Green Bay probably results in Raven Greene sticking around. Though his results are about as good as Redmond’s, physically, Greene seems much better suited to the hybrid safety/linebacker role the Packers have favored.
His special teams contributions, likewise, carry some value for the Packers. Limited to just 10 games in 2020, Greene still logged more than 100 special teams snaps, collecting one solo tackle and two assists for his trouble.
Over The Cap projects the low-end restricted free agent tender at just a hair over $2.1 million. That’s more than the Packers spent on Redmond in 2020, but Greene is the more useful of the two. If he can stay healthy (a big if, to be sure) that’s a fairly reasonable investment for this season and gives the Packers a decent enough moveable piece in their secondary as well as a potential core special teamer.