The Green Bay Packers have claimed safety Johnathan Abram via the Las Vegas Raiders on Wednesday. Abram, a former first-round pick, was reportedly on the trade block at the deadline this year, but the Raiders couldn’t find a team willing to give up a draft pick for the defender.
Abram was originally drafted 27th overall in 2019 but had his rookie season cut short with a torn rotator cuff and labrum which occurred during the season opener. During his Raiders career, Abram started in 34 of 36 games in which he was available to play and recorded 255 tackles, eight tackles for loss, 12 pass breakups and three interceptions. The two non-starts for the safety came in the last two weeks.
While he has played 2,282 total defensive snaps in his career, Abram also has experience playing under Packers special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia, who was with the Raiders from 2018 to 2021. In 2020 and 2021, Abram played 28 percent and 25 percent of the Raiders’ special teams snaps, respectively. In 2022 under a new coaching staff, Abram only played seven total special teams snaps in games in which he started on the defensive side of the ball. 20 of his 27 special teams snaps this year have come in the last two weeks.
With the addition of Abram, Green Bay now rosters six safeties on their 53-man roster. Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage are the team’s starters while Rudy Ford is a core special teamer and the team’s dimeback. Dallin Leavitt and Tariq Carpenter are also special teams contributors, with Leavitt being a core member of the unit.
It’s uncertain what Abram’s role with the team is going to be, but it’s worth noting that head coach Matt LaFleur was concerned on Monday that cornerback Eric Stokes’ injury had the potential to be a season-ending injury. While we haven’t heard a clear update, being down a starting defensive back could open up the possibility of Savage playing the nickel. The Packers’ starting nickel, Rasul Douglas, will be moving to cornerback in place of Stokes. Last week, defensive coordinator Joe Barry waxed poetically about how Savage could play the slot if the team had more safety depth.
Could Abram come off the bench in nickel looks instead of Keisean Nixon? Is Abram good enough at the position to displace Savage as a true safety in those situations? These are the questions that Barry almost certainly will have to answer on Thursday when Green Bay’s coordinators speak to the press.