The Green Bay Packers have a definite need at safety heading into the 2024 offseason. The team’s top three players at the position from last season are all scheduled to be unrestricted free agents later this month, leaving them with no proven NFL talent at the position. But after the NFL Scouting Combine, the Packers will likely have to acquire at least one veteran safety this offseason. Here is why the Packers should look to free agency at safety this offseason.

Why the Packers Should Look to Free Agency at Safety: The Present Roster

The Packers top three safeties on the depth chart in 2023 are all scheduled to be unrestricted free agents.

Darnell Savage, Rudy Ford, and Jonathan Owens are all set to hit the open market later in March. Savage has the highest value as a free agent. The former first-round pick out of Maryland is fast and athletic. Unfortunately, he never lived up to his potential on a consistent basis. Many experts expect him to receive a substantial offer once free agency begins.

Ford and Owens can both be useful players but are not as highly regarded as Savage. Ford does his best work in pass coverage. He led the Packers with two interceptions last season despite missing four games due to injury.

Owens is better in the box than he is in coverage. He recovered one fumble and returned it for a touchdown. He also broke up three passes and recorded a sack.

The Packers could still sign one or more of them before the start of the season, but obviously if they hit the open market, the odds of that happening go down significantly. The only way they are likely to return after free agency begins is if they don’t get a substantial offer and have to return to Green Bay at a team-friendly rate.

Why the Packers Should Look to Free Agency at Safety: The Combine

The safety position in the 2024 NFL Draft class is not considered strong or deep compared to other positions. At the combine, one of the highest-regarded players at safety produced a disappointing performance.

Kamren Kinchens of Miami (Florida) is one of the two favorites to be the first safety selected. Unfortunately, Kinchens did not test well at the combine. He ran the 40-yard dash in a disappointing 4.65. His broad jump was just nine feet, two inches.

Overall, Kinchens scored a 2.11 relative athletic score, one of the key measurables that Packers GM Brian Gutekunst considers highly when choosing players in the draft. With these numbers, Kinchens is all but off the Packers board, especially in the early rounds of the draft.

That leaves Minnesota’s Tyler Nubin and Calen Bullock of USC as the only safeties with a first or second round grade. Nubin had surgery recently and did not test at the combine. He has the versatility the Packers like but may not be athletic enough. Jaden Hicks of Washington State and Javon Bullard of Georgia are considered third round players at best.

The Packers need two starters for 2024 and are unlikely to find two players in this year’s draft to fit the bill. They will certainly draft one or more players at the position, but it’s doubtful they will find two players ready to start in year one.

Free Agents Available This Year

There are some quality free agent safeties on the market including the three players who played in Green Bay in 2023. Others include Antoine Winfield of Tampa Bay, Kyle Dugger of New England, and Kamren Curl of Washington.

Keep in mind, the Packers will have a new defensive coordinator in Jeff Hafley. Hafley wants one safety who will play more in the box and one who will be deep in coverage. Ideally, the new defensive coordinator wants players who can play both positions. This would create another split second of confusion for quarterbacks who won’t necessarily know right away which safety is playing which role.

This year, the Packers need for safeties is high and the draft doesn’t have many players who can start as rookies and fill the need right away. Anthony Johnson, Jr. is now the only player with the potential to start at safety and he has started four games in his rookie season.

That, combined with the increase in the amount of cap space the Packers have means the odds of the Packers acquiring a veteran safety either via free agency or trade is higher than usual.





Follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

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