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Former First Round Free Agent: “It’s Been A Great Time” With Current Team

Green Bay Packers safety Darnell Savage is set to hit the open market, and the former first-round pick spoke about his time in Wisconsin
Darnell Savage

Former Green Bay Packers first-round Darnell Savage enters free agency after a tumultuous five years in Wisconsin. Selected out of Maryland, Savage has battled through injuries and inconsistent play throughout his professional career. While he began his career as a starter, he was benched in 2022 and injuries limited him to just 10 games in 2023. Fortunately, 2022 appears to have been an outlier season, as Savage played well during the final year of his rookie contract.

Even though the Packers defense was largely unremarkable, Darnell Savage enters free agency on the heels of arguably his best season. While on the field, the former first-round pick recorded 51 tackles, one tackle-for-loss, and a 75.5 PFF grade, good for the 16th-best mark in the league among 95 eligible players. All in all, it was a good season, and he did it all despite playing in Joe Barry’s outdated scheme. With his rookie contract officially expired, Savage remarked on his time in Green Bay in a recent interview.

“I’m not nervous [about free agency],” Darnell Savage said, via Jason Wilde of “It’s been a great time. I love this place, love Green Bay, love all my teammates in here. It’s a great place. The ‘G’ stands for ‘greatness.”

Darnell Savage Addresses Impending Free Agency

Based on that quote, it appears Darnell Savage is open to returning to the Packers in free agency. However, like most free agents, he’ll probably go to the highest bidder. Savage isn’t good enough to receive the franchise or transition tag, so the only way Green Bay can keep him around is if they sign him to a long-term deal for the start of free agency. This doesn’t appear likely, as Savage should at least do his due diligence to see what else is out there. Additionally, Joe Barry is gone, and there is a chance that Savage won’t be a good fit for the next defensive coordinator.

Ultimately, there’s no way to say for sure where Darnell Savage will land in free agency. However, if he leaves for another team, these five organizations make the most sense.

Free Agent Destinations

Kansas City Chiefs

The Kansas City Chiefs are still trying to find a proper replacement for Tyrann Mathieu. Even though the 2023 version of the squad has the best defense of the Patrick Mahomes Era, the safety position is weak. Justin Reid and Mike Edwards have not impressed, and while rookie Chamarri Conner has shown some promise, he is anything but a sure bet to be a long-term starter. Darnell Savage is a solid coverage player, and the ability against the pass is vital for Kansas City’s defense. As long as Patrick Mahomes is healthy, opposing teams will be throwing to try and keep up, and Savage can slow down those aerial attacks.

Detroit Lions

The Detroit Lions made it to the NFC Championship Game, but they did it despite their defense. While the offense has been one of the best in the league, the defense has trouble stopping opponents on the ground or through the air. Darnell Savage wouldn’t be able to fix this unit on his own, but he’d be a good step in the right direction. If Detroit can fix their defense in the offseason, they could very well be Super Bowl favorites in 2024.

Dallas Cowboys

Much like the Chiefs, the Dallas Cowboys have a good defense with a glaring need at safety. Malik Hooker is a good starter, but Donovan Wilson and fellow free agent Jayron Kearse are nothing more than replacement-level starters. This team is good in the regular season, but it’s clear that they need some extra defensive firepower if they want to make a deep postseason run. Darnell Savage isn’t going to be the difference between a championship and a Wild Card exit, but he can solidify a clear position of need for this team.

Houston Texans

The Houston Texans are ahead of schedule in their rebuild. The foundation for success is set with youngsters C.J. Stroud, Tank Dell, and Will Anderson, and now it’s time for the team to use their $74 million in cap space to create a juggernaut. With the AFC South serving as one of the worst divisions in football, it shouldn’t surprise anyone if Houston takes the one seed next year, especially if Darnell Savage is there to take advantage of weak opposing offenses.

Los Angeles Chargers

On paper, the Los Angeles Chargers have one of the better safety duos in Alohi Gilman and Derwin James. However, the on-field results don’t match the natural talents of these two players. James had a rough year, finishing with an underwhelming 60.0 PFF grade on 1,001 defensive snaps. Was this a random blip on the radar, or has age started to come for the soon-to-be 28-year-old? There’s no way to say for sure, but if the Chargers next head coach isn’t sure about James’ future, then perhaps they try and get Darnell Savage as a cost-effective insurance policy.

Main Photo: Mark Hoffman – USA Today Sports


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