The Green Bay Packers lost starting inside linebacker Jake Ryan on Monday. If they put Josh Jones in his spot, could Eric Reid replace him on the back end?
The Green Bay Packers had an injury-filled practice Monday afternoon. Mike Daniels, Kentrell Brice and Jake Ryan left at one point or another. While Daniels and Brice escaped with nothing serious, Ryan was not so lucky. Heading into the final season of his rookie contract, he tore his ACL and wiped himself out for the season.
Ryan has been strong against the run, but the team was hoping to utilize him to more success in general under new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine.
Last season, Josh Jones played in the box and on the back end as a safety. His athleticism made him a perfect for the hybrid linebacker-safety that has been popularized in recent years. While the team added a player in that mold in Oren Burks in the draft, his youth has raised some questions. Some rumors have begun to circulate that the team could add a player like Navorro Bowman. He would give them additional depth and a veteran presence at inside linebacker.
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While Burks may silence the doubts during training camp, it could still leave a hole at safety. Although a natural safety in college, Jones struggled at that spot last season. If the team wanted to give Burks time to develop, while keeping Jones on the field, they should consider the controversial Eric Reid. The former All-Rookie team member remains curiously unsigned. Most signs would point towards his National Anthem stance for his free agent status.
While the National Anthem protests have been interesting with regard to the Packers, specifically head coach Mike McCarthy, Reid would represent a great addition that helps them at more than one position. Reid would slot in alongside Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to provide another veteran presence on the back end. Pettine has been known to experiment with coverage looks. The team could go with a 3-safety look of Jones, Reid and Clinton-Dix in obvious passing situations.
The Packers don’t have a ton of cap space available, which could hurt them in the pursuit for Reid. However, Reid also can’t expect a ton of money to be available to him. At this point in free agency, the majority of teams have all the players they will need this season. Reid’s market is limited, although he is trying out for the Tenessee Titans. While Reid’s abilities can let him be a little picky, his market appears mostly dry at this point in time.
The Packers would present Reid the opportunity to start, while also contending for a title this season. He would be able to sign a one-year deal to re-enter the free agent pool next season, while simultaneously recouping his value. Reid is a legitimate talent that could be very successful in Pettine’s system. His versatility would give Pettine more creative power to throw complex looks at opposing offenses.
Jones struggled in coverage last season as a true safety. While this isn’t to say he can’t play that position at some point, he could start next to Blake Martinez from day one. His size and athleticism make him a natural fit in the modern inside linebacker. Reid has a ton of ability, but he needs the opportunity. The Packers can give him that opportunity, which could push them over the top in their quest for a Super Bowl title.