Rich Bisaccia’s ongoing influence on the Green Bay Packers roster continues as he enters his second year as the team’s special teams coordinator. Nearly all of the Packers’ moves so far in free agency have had significant special teams effects, and that now includes the team’s latest re-signing.
According to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, the Packers are bringing back safety and special teamer Dallin Leavitt for the 2023 season. After spending four years playing for Bisaccia with the Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders, Leavitt signed a one-year deal with Green Bay last season as one of the coach’s hand-picked players. It is likely that Leavitt’s new contract will also run for one year, perhaps qualifying for the veteran salary benefit against the salary cap.
In that first season with the Packers, Leavitt did not miss a game and recorded a total of 13 tackles — seven solo stops and six assists. He was on the field for a total of 308 snaps on special teams, a number that accounted for nearly three-fourths of the team’s total plays in that phase. Only one player, Tyler Davis, played more snaps on special teams, with the primary reason being that Davis also played the wing on place-kicks.
With Leavitt’s return, the Packers have now signed five defensive backs this season whose most notable contributions in recent years have come on special teams. Leavitt joins fellow safety Rudy Ford and cornerbacks Keisean Nixon and Corey Ballentine in returning to the Packers on new one-year deals. Additionally, the Packers signed former 49ers safety Tarvarius Moore to a one-year contract, and like these other players, Moore’s primary contributions for much of his career have come on special teams. Besides Moore, the Packers’ only other outside free agent acquisition is a pure specialist: long snapper Matt Orzech, formerly of the Los Angeles Rams.
Green Bay’s safety group now consists of few players who can reliably contribute at the actual safety position. Leavitt’s primary role has been on coverage teams and as the personal protector on the punt team, while only Savage has any lengthy experience as a full-time starter. Moore and Ford have both started games in the past, with Ford making a handful of big plays for the Packers in his six games as a starter last season, but neither is a sure bet to be worthy of a full-time starting gig.
Behind those players, the team has the likes of Innis Gaines, Tariq Carpenter, and James Wiggins filling out the bottom of the depth chart. Notably, both Gaines and Carpenter got into games on defense before Leavitt did in 2022. Green Bay’s coaching staff did try playing Leavitt on defense during last year’s preseason games, but his play at safety was dismal and did not see a snap on defense during the regular season. Even August signing Micah Abernathy and midseason pickup Johnathan Abram (who played only two games for the Packers) got into games for a single snap on defense.
Still, Leavitt brings a jolt of energy on special teams, with Bisaccia referring to him as “the Energizer Bunny” and “the Tasmanian Devil.” Evidently the Packers think they need to keep his brand of crazy in the special teams room for another season.