Top free agent safeties still available and will Packers make a move?

Dec 4, 2022; Houston, Texas, USA; Cleveland Browns safety John Johnson III (43) reacts towards the crowd after a play during the second quarter against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 4, 2022; Houston, Texas, USA; Cleveland Browns safety John Johnson III (43) reacts towards the crowd after a play during the second quarter against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /

The Green Bay Packers have a lot of unknowns at the safety position, so could they look to make an addition before training camp? Here are the top remaining free agents available at the position.

The safety play from the Packers in 2022 was wildly inconsistent. Coverage breakdowns, miscommunications, and missed tackles happened far too frequently. While PFF’s grading system is not the be-all-end-all when evaluating performance. If a player is struggling, it’ll often reflect that, and vice versa if they’re playing really well. Out of 68 eligible safeties last season, Adrian Amos ranked 64th in overall grade, and Darnell Savage 68th.

This offseason, the Packers have made a number of additions or re-signings at the safety position, but questions still remain.

Matt LaFleur has already stated that Savage will be one of the starters to begin the season, but who will be playing next to him is still to be decided. Throughout the offseason programs, that player has been Rudy Ford. When called upon last season, Ford provided some stability to the position with his willingness to tackle and simply being positioned correctly, which led to four takeaways. However, with never playing more than 450 defensive snaps in a season, can Ford maintain that level of play for an entire year?

Jonathan Owens and Tarvarius Moore are two free-agent signings already made at the position. Both have proven to be capable against the run and as tacklers, but both are relatively inexperienced as well, with 2022 being Owens’ first as a starter and Moore not seeing significant playing time on defense since 2020. Both will also have to prove that they can hold up consistently in coverage. Based on what I saw during OTAs and minicamp, Moore and Owens are currently the third and fourth options on the depth chart.

Following free agency, Green Bay would then use one of their seventh-round picks on Anthony Johnson, who has the skill set to fill an Adrian Amos-like role in the defense, but the learning curve for him is going to be steep. Not only is he making the jump to the NFL, but this is only Johnson’s second season playing the safety position. During team drills, he was the clear fifth defensive option.

Dallin Leavitt is going to primarily be a special teams player, while Innis Gaines has often lined up in the slot and been a special teams contributor, but he is going to have a difficult time making the 53-man roster this season.

Although there are unknowns, as just discussed, this is also a very crowded safety room that the Packers have. I just listed seven players who could make a case for being on the 53-man roster when realistically, Green Bay is keeping five at most, which means two of these players will be cut.

It’s also not as if the Packers haven’t already been active in adding to his position group. Ford and Leavitt were players re-signed in free agency, while Moore and Owens were new free-agent additions, and Johnson was a draft pick. One would think that if there was a player still available who the Packers wanted, they already would have made that signing rather than making a handful of other additions.

So for those two primary reasons, my educated guess is that the Packers are not going to be adding to their safety room. But nonetheless, utilizing NFL Trade Rumors’ top 100 available free agents list, here are the best available remaining safeties, along with their corresponding ranking within the top 100.

14. John Johnson

21. Andrew Adams

32. Logan Ryan

39. Duron Harmon

54. PJ Williams

55. DeAndre Houston-Carson

70. CJ Moore

77. Ronnie Harrison

78. Sean Chandler

79. Landon Collins

We’ve seen GM Brian Gutekunst find key contributors at this time of the year, with Dennis Kelly, De’Vondre Campbell, and Leavitt being recent examples. July was also a time last summer when we saw a lot of roster turnover, with the Packers making six additions and five cuts prior to training camp. However, most of those moves from a year ago were Gutekunst churning the bottom of the roster rather than him making a significant addition.

From a salary cap perspective, Over the Cap has the Packers with $14.29 million in available space. But as Ken Ingalls, who independently tracks Green Bay’s salary cap situation, notes, when taking into account other unaccounted-for expenses, such as signing Jayden Reed and Luke Musgrave, putting together the practice squad, having cap space for in-season spending, and more, he projects that the Packers effective cap space is only $1.2 million.