As we enter the new NFL league year, the Green Bay Packers thinnest position is at safety. The team has no clear cut answers on their roster right now with most of their main contributors from 2022 presently unsigned and about to enter free agency.

Adrian Amos gave the Packers three strong seasons after signing with the team as a free agent prior to 2019. But in 2022, his play fell off and he is about to turn 30 in April so the Packers will be unlikely to offer him a long-term deal.

Darnell Savage also played poorly in the first 10 games of the season and was benched for his poor zone coverage and lazy attempts at tackles. Savage was moved to the dime back then to cover slot receivers and played better down the stretch but his role in the secondary in 2023 is uncertain and it may not be as a starting safety.

Rudy Ford replaced Savage in the lineup and was an upgrade but Ford is also an unrestricted free agent and is known more for his prowess on special teams rather than his play on defense. It is unclear if Ford will be back in Green Bay next season.

So here are five potential free agent safeties the Packers could sign for 2023. Signing these players doesn’t mean the team won’t also select a safety in the early rounds of this year’s NFL Draft which is also likely. But the need at the position is great and even if GM Brian Gutekunst selects a safety early, a veteran to hold down the position short term or provide experienced depth is still necessary.

  1. Duron Harmon

Harmon just turned 32 in January so he would be viewed as a stopgap move to hold down a job until a rookie is ready to play full time. The former Rutgers star could also act as a mentor for some draft picks while he’s with the Pack.

Harmon has a history of staying healthy and not missing games. He made two interceptions last season including a pick six, broke up five passes and forced two fumbles.

Opposing quarterbacks completed 77.2 percent of their passes when throwing to receivers covered by Harmon last season according to

Harmon doesn’t grade out well in coverage but would bolster the Packers run defense. He would provide experience and should only be added on a one or two-year deal at a reasonable price.

  1. Kareem Jackson

Jackson is 34 and clearly on the downside of his career. He would not be able to play man coverage extensively at this state of his career because he has lost a step but he’s smart and knows the game.

He started all 17 games for the Broncos last season and made 94 total tackles. He broke up three passes and recovered two fumbles but did not intercept a pass.

Jackson improved in coverage in 2022 as opposing quarterbacks completed only 57.6 percent of their passes when throwing to receivers covered by Jackson after allowing 77.8 percent the previous season.

The Alabama alum would give the Packers an inexperienced and experienced bridge player at safety if they sign him.

  1. Jimmie Ward

Ward is a Wisconsin native and he’ll turn 32 before the start of the 2023 season. The Northern Illinois alum had three interceptions in 12 games for the 49ers while starting five. He made 50 total tackles and broke up five passes.

Ward is a very strong run defender but struggled in pass coverage last season. Opposing quarterbacks completed 73.2 percent of their passes when throwing to receivers covered by Ward and had a quarterback rating of 87.4.

Ward would be a stopgap solution who could help the run defense and provide experience in the secondary on a short-term and inexpensive deal.

  1. Jessie Bates

Bates is younger than the previous candidates on this list. He will be 26 at the start of the coming season and spent the last five seasons with the Bengals after they selected him in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft.

The former Wake Forest star intercepted a career-high four passes last season while making 71 total tackles. He broke up eight passes and forced on fumble.

Opposing quarterbacks completed 51.4 percent of their passes when throwing to receivers covered by Bates and had a quarterback rating of only 76.1.

Bates would boost the Packers run defense and graded out highly in that area while also playing well in coverage. He would be much more expensive than Jackson or Harmon but could be a longer-term solution at the position because of his age and higher level of play. It may be tough for the Packers to afford him.

  1. Jordan Poyer

Poyer will turn 32 in April but he’s played the best football of his career in the last two seasons being named All Pro in 2021 and to the Pro Bowl in 2022. The former Oregon State star has a nose for the football and intercepted four passes last season in just 12 games after picking off five passes the previous season in 16 contests.

While quarterbacks completed 67.7 percent of their passes when throwing to receivers covered by Poyer with Buffalo last season, they averaged only 7.0-yards per catch and had a quarterback rating of just 60.1.

He is strong in coverage and solid against the run, something the Packers definitely need.

His age may make him willing to take a shorter contract but Poyer may be out of the Packers price range based on his last two strong seasons. Still, he would be a definite upgrade for the Packers at the safety position.



Follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

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