The Green Bay Packers have several needs heading into this off-season. As we discussed previously, tight end and edge rusher are top of that list. But another position that will need to be addressed is safety. With Adrian Amos headed to free agency and Darnell Savage struggling, general manager Brian Gutekunst will need to make some decisions at the safety position.
Packers Have Serious Decisions to Make With Adrian Amos, Darnell Savage
The Green Bay Packers secondary is strong at the cornerback position. Jaire Alexander, Eric Stokes, and veteran Rasul Douglas have the potential to be one of the best trios of cornerbacks in the NFL. That’s even with Stokes returning from injury and Douglas coming off a down 2022 season. But if the cornerbacks are going to flourish, they will need help at safety.
Since joining the Packers as a free agent in 2019, Adrian Amos has been the backbone of the Green Bay Packers secondary. Prior to 2022, it seemed doubtful that Gutekunst and the Packers would allow Adrian Amos to reach free agency. But with money tight, and some believing Amos struggled in 2022, he is headed to be a free agent this off-season.
Unfortunately, Darnell Savage will return in 2023, unless Gutekunst can pull a rabbit out of his hat and move him via trade this off-season. Prior to last season, Gutekunst and the Packers picked up Savage’s fifth-year option. The move backfired with Savage playing poorly and losing his starting spot late in 2022.
With Amos possibly departing and Savage struggling, it puts Gutekunst in a tough spot. He will be looking for possibly two starting safeties this off-season. To do so, Gutekunst might need to get creative in finding help.
Making a Case for Keeping Adrian Amos
Many believe that it is a foregone conclusion that Adrian Amos will depart this off-season. But if you look at his 2022 numbers, you can make a case for keeping him.
Not only has Amos been a veteran presence on the Green Bay Packers defense, but he has also produced. Even last season, in a season where many thought he struggled, he posted some career numbers. He had the most combined tackles, solo tackles, and tackles for loss in his career.
So why do many believe Amos struggled in 2022? Many will point to times when Amos struggled in pass coverage. When that happened, Amos was late to react and was late to help out the cornerbacks if they were beaten deep.
But there could be an easy explanation for his so-called “struggles”. That is the system that Amos played in. Defensive coordinator Joe Barry and his defensive system have been under fire since he was hired. Amos isn’t the only player that has struggled since Barry has become the defensive coordinator.
While Barry is returning, there is a good chance that his scheme will undergo an overhaul in 2023. If Barry wants to keep his job, he has to change things up. If that were to happen, it’s very possible Adrian Amos will play as he did in previous seasons. That makes a strong case for keeping Amos and re-signing him this off-season.
Keeping Amos would solve at least one problem for Gutekunst this off-season. Instead of having to find two starting safeties, he would need to find just one. Having Amos, a proven veteran, would make the Packers defense stronger.
Options for Darnell Savage
As stated earlier, the Packers are stuck with Savage. It is highly doubtful that Gutekunst can move Savage unless Gutekunst moves Aaron Rodgers and throws Savage into the deal. Even that is a long shot.
That means the Packers will need to find somewhere to play Savage. The chances of him winning back his starting safety spot, which will mean him resurrecting his career, are low. So that limits him to possibly playing nickel or dime back. It is doubtful even Barry will trust him at nickel back, so that leaves him at dime back.
Playing dime back might give him a chance to gain back some confidence. It also would limit the Packers from depending on him to be an efficient tackler, something he has proven he can’t be. With a guaranteed one-year contract, he will be a very expensive dime back.
Possible Replacement Options
The Packers have an in-house option at one of the safety spots. That option is Rasul Douglas. Douglas is best at the boundary cornerback. But Alexander has one of those spots locked up and with Stokes being a former first-round pick, he is pretty much locked at the other one.
Douglas struggled to play nickel back last year. In fact, it was one of many mistakes Barry made last season. Douglas has the size and range to be a safety and could hold down one of the starting spots if Amos doesn’t return.
That leaves just one spot to fill. With the Packers being in a tough spot money-wise, it is doubtful that spot will be filled by a free agent. If it is, that player’s contract will have to be very team-friendly contract.
The draft looks like the best way to fill that other starting spot. Luckily for the Packers, there is some good depth in this year’s NFL Draft. Brian Branch, Antonio Johnson, Jordan Battle, and Chris Smith are all very capable players in their own way. While Branch is sure to go in the first round, Johnson, Battle, and Smith could be available in the second or third round. But again, it would be best if that rookie is matched up with a veteran safety.
It appears 2023 will be a transitional season for the Packers, in many ways. It appears that safety will look a lot different than in seasons past.
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