The depth behind the starting safeties could be a concern, unless someone steals the show during training camp.
The Green Bay Packers report for training camp on July 27th, with the team’s first practice coming the next day. In the week leading up to camp, Acme Packing Company will break down the Packers’ 90-man roster and give our predictions for who will make the initial 53 at the end of camp. Seven APC contributors submitted their 53-man predictions, and we have combined those picks into our annual consolidated prediction.
It was not all that long ago that the safety position was arguably the weakest position on the Green Bay Packers’ roster.
After the abysmal 2018 season that saw 2014 first-rounder Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Kentrell Brice, and second-round pick Josh Jones all disappoint, general manager Brian Gutekunst knew he’d had to address the position in the offseason.
He did so on multiple fronts. He signed veteran Adrian Amos away from the rival Chicago Bears and drafted Maryland’s Darnell Savage with Green Bay’s second first round pick in the 2019 draft. What both have provided in the two seasons since is a sense of stability and perhaps underrated greatness which should continue into 2021.
What about behind those two players? Are the Packers deep enough at that position should AJ unfortunate injury occur to either starter? Let’s find out in our preview and roster prediction for the 2021 safeties.
Safeties on the 90 man roster
NFL Experience: 7th season
2020 Stats: 83 tackles, two interceptions, two sacks
2021 Cap Hit: $5.9 Million
When Amos signed with the Packers, it didn’t come with the fanfare Za’Darius Smith received when he became the first player the Packers signed. Amos flew even further under the radar after Smith’s spectacular 2019 season.
Fast forward to 2021 and Amos is still not talked about nearly as much as he should be. He doesn’t have gaudy stats but what he does is just play solid consistent football each and every week, something the Packers sorely lacked from Clinton-Dix.
Pro Football Focus had him as the second highest graded safety but you’d never know it. He’s just a good football player that will come through when you need him to. He’s also been available for every game through two years in Green Bay, which is of course beneficial.
NFL Experience: 6th season
2020 stats (13 games): 28 combined tackles
2021 cap hit: $920,000
Redmond’s memorable moment from last season is not a positive one. His botched interception attempt during the NFC Championship was one of the bigger missed opportunities in a game that was full of them. He has, however, been a solid contributor on special teams and can also move into the slot cornerback role when needed.
That said, his tackling skills are in need of improvement which could be the only thing that pushes him on the roster bubble. Still, he’s a likely bet for the roster thanks to his versatility and special teams abilities.
NFL Experience: 3rd season
2020 Stats (15 games): 75 tackles, one sack, four interceptions
2021 Cap hit: $3.4 million
Savage was, well, savage during the final stretch of 2020 as all four of his interceptions came in the final six weeks of the regular season. He very much seems like another star on the rise in the secondary. He seems to be following the same path cornerback Jaire Alexander followed on his way to becoming an elite player in the NFL. Alexander made his biggest jump between years two and three, the exact same place Savage is now.
Savage’s speed and coverage skills make him a natural free safety but he can be moved all over the field. The sky remains the limit for him and he is a big reason safety has gone from weakness to strength for the Packers.
NFL Experience: 2nd season
2020 stats (15 games): 13 tackles, one sack
2021 cap hit: $800,000
Scott was a seventh round pick last season and saw limited action but he could be in line to take over the dime safety role from Raven Greene.
That dime role is usually filled by a hybrid safety/linebacker and Scott could definitely be more of that type of player. He has experience in that role already from his time at TCU and depending on how Barry uses the dime defense, Scott could see a big jump in playing time.
NFL Experience: 2nd season
2020 stats (eight games): eight tackles, one forced fumble
2021 cap hit: $780,000
An undrafted free agent from Baylor last year, Black spent time on and off the practice squad for the Packers last season but made a splash when he forced a fumble that sealed Green Bay’s win over the Houston Texans last season.
For 2021, Black looks to be another candidate for the practice squad or for special teams because the Packers really like how he played there last year.
NFL Experience: rookie (undrafted free agent)
2021 cap hit: $662,000
Every year there’s that one camp darling for the Packers and my vote this year might go to Uphoff. He lost his final year at Illinois State to the pandemic, but he caught the eye of many scouts during the Senior Bowl. He ended up going undrafted but his college tape shows a player who’s versatile (a key theme for this Packers defense), smart, and doesn’t shy from making the hit.
He also has experience playing in a two-high safety defense, something Barry often employs.
NFL Experience: 1st season (futures contract)
2021 cap hit: $660,000
Gaines was signed to a futures contract in January but not much is known about the player. He wasn’t invited to the combine and TCU’s pro day was canceled due to the pandemic.
The Packers previously brought Gaines in for a workout last August before signing him to the futures deal. It would appear some strong special teams play may be the only way Gaines makes the initial 53-man roster.
APC 53-man Roster Predictions
Starters: Adrian Amos, Darnell Savage
Backups: Will Redmond, Vernon Scott
The prediction here seems pretty cut and dry, but it wouldn’t be a complete surprise to see Black or Uphoff steal a roster spot. Amos and Savage give the Packers the best safety tandem they’ve had in years but the depth behind them isn’t the best. Look for more competition to potentially be brought in during camp, especially if Redmond struggles.