One similarity now shared by both Ted Thompson and Brian Gutekunst in year two as General Manager of the Green Bay Packers is that each signed a free agent safety to improve the defense. However, Green Bay hopes that the multiyear deal inked with Adrian Amos this past week results in a far greater outcome than the one signed in 2006.
That contract belonged to Marquand Manuel, and it was a five-year, $10 million deal that represented a significant investment when he signed it over a decade ago.
Manuel was coming off a 2005 season in which he started 11 games at free safety for the Seattle Seahawks. The number of starts for Manuel, paired with a Super Bowl appearance in a contract year, helped the veteran in free agency after bouncing around the NFL with two seasons in both Cincinnati and Seattle. Green Bay, looking to move on from a free agent bust in Mark Roman, became a possible destination for the former Florida Gator.
The glaring concern with the Packers’ keen interest in Manuel at the time of free agency was his lack of created turnovers, forcing just two fumbles and intercepting zero passes in his career to that point. Although Manuel did intercept one pass in a Packer uniform while posting a combined 81 tackles in 16 starts at strong safety for Green Bay in 2006, he allowed too many big plays in the secondary. By the time the next preseason rolled around, Manuel had lost his starting job to Atari Bigby. The Packers moved on, parting ways with Manuel after just one season.
While Green Bay has accumulated a number of draft picks and undrafted free agents at safety, Amos becomes the first major signing at the position since Manuel. Like Manuel, Amos has not forced a high number of takeaways, amassing three forced fumbles and three interceptions over his four seasons in Chicago. They also share a similar body size at six-feet and around 210 pounds and were drafted in the late rounds. However, unlike Manuel, Amos has been viewed as a reliable player who allows others to make plays. The sample size is also much larger for Amos, who started at least 10 games in every season with the Bears and brings plenty of NFC North experience to Titletown.
It is still unclear which safety position Amos will play for the Packers, but he brings the versatility to fill in at either role, likely contributing all over. If he slides into the free position more frequently, Green Bay figures to give Josh Jones another chance in the box. If Amos generally plays closer to the line as a strong safety, the Packers could give Tramon Williams an opportunity to roam the defensive backfield in coverage. Amos is praised for his tackling and physicality which make for a good fit at safety, but he has not factored into the blitz equation much in his career, notching just two sacks.
The Packers invested heavily in Amos with a four-year, $36 million contract, including $11 million in guaranteed money. Yet, Amos’ base salary in his first two seasons will be $1.25 and $1.75 million, respectively, and he stands to earn a $4 million roster bonus in 2020 if still on the team. This, along with a potential out in his contract after the 2020 season, offers Green Bay protection in case Amos’ career takes a path similar to Manuel. Still, Amos will be compensated well to give the Packers a sorely-needed defensive upgrade.
Green Bay still might not be done adding to the safety position this offseason with the draft looming in just over a month. But the team’s hope is that the signing of Amos will shore up a position of need for much longer than a single season this time around.