2020 Season in Review - Safeties
Another day, another position! In our ninth instalment of reviewing every player at every position, we turn our attentions to the safeties. How did they fair in 2020?
Amos is a smart, consistent, team leader who is rarely out of position and simply makes plays. He often seems to go about his work quietly but then all of a sudden will make a big, game changing play. His partnership with Darnell Savage is one of the league’s best. Like Kenny Clark, Amos appeared to play at his excellent best in the second half of the season, helping the Packers defense take a leap upwards.
Amos played and started all 16 games and according to PFF was the second best safety in the entire NFL in 2020 (they gave him a grade of 89.4). As well as being selected PFF 1st Team All-Pro he was also 6th in the voting for the AP All-Pro team. He should have made the Pro Bowl, but that recognition may come next year (Pro Bowl voters often seem to catch up a year behind).
Amos had 2 interceptions for 47 yards and 9 passes defensed. He also notched up 83 tackles (66 solo) including 4 tackles for a loss, 2 sacks, 3 QB hits and 1 fumble recovery.
The Packers restructured Amos' contract on March 12th, converting his roster bonus plus some of his base salary to a signing bonus – freeing up some much needed cap space ahead of the deadline this coming week. This effectively pushes the hit to 2022 where the Packers may decide again to offer a contract extension.
In 2021, Amos will be expected to continue his excellent partnership with Darnell Savage.
Darnell Savage Jr.
Like fellow 2019 first round draft pick Rashan Gary, Darnell Savage took the next step in 2020 and yet still left us believing that there is much more to come – and that’s a good thing. Some analysts prefer Savage when he plays closer to the line of scrimmage, but we believe that he’s equally adept deep in coverage (zone) – he has the combination of size and speed to play all over the field.
Savage played in 15 games, starting all of them, being on the inactive list for 1 game (week 7). He notched up an impressive 4 interceptions (for 13 yards) and 12 passes defensed. According to PFF his combined interceptions & pass-break-ups placed him in 2nd in the NFL amongst all safeties (PFF). Savage had 75 tackles (36 solo) including 3 tackles for a loss, 1 sack, 3 QB hits and 1 fumble recovery.
The Packers will be counting on Savage to continue his progress in 2021, starring alongside Adrian Amos in one of the premier safety combinations in the NFL.
Greene is a hybrid safety/linebacker type who is more comfortable the closer to the line of scrimmage he plays. He entered 2020 as the no.3 safety on the depth chart and played in 10 games (0 starts), and was inactive for 2 others, before going on Injured Reserve on 8th December - where he remained for the rest of the season.
In the 10 games he played, Greene notched up 40 tackles (38 solo), including 1 tackle for a loss. He also had 1.5 sacks, 3 QB hits, 1 forced fumble, 5 passes defensed and 1 interception which he returned for 17 yards. Greene also had 3 special teams tackles (1 solo).
Greene is now a restricted free agent, giving the Packers a right of first refusal to bring him back in 2021 if they tender him a contract (worth at least $2.1m). It will be interesting decision for the Packers to make in the days of salary cap challenges.
The Packers signed Redmond to a 1yr/$750,000 back in March 2020, hopeful that he could show progression in his 3rd NFL season and solidify his spot on the roster. Redmond proved to be a solid but unspectacular player again for much of 2020 but this will likely be overshadowed by the NFC Championship game – where he dropped an easy potential interception and then shortly afterwards failed to get over and make the play as the single high safety as Tampa Bay scored on a long touchdown pass on the last play of the first half.
In the Regular Season, Redmond played in 13 games, with 1 start - coming when Savage was injured (week 7 v Houston) and was inactive for the other 3 games. On defense, he notched up 24 tackles (21 solo), with 2 QB hits and 1 pass defensed. On special teams, he had 4 tackles (3 solo).
Redmond is now an unrestricted free agent and therefore may not be back with the team in 2021 – certainly it’s difficult to envisage any team, including the Packers, giving him a contract bigger than the veteran’s minimum.
2020 rookie Vernon Scott signed a 4yr/$3.37m rookie contract in June and proceeded to earn every cent. He was a surprising 7th round draft pick (236th overall) - Scott was the 79th ranked safety on our 2020 draft board, but he delivered everything and more that you could expect out of a 7th round draft choice.
Scott played in 15 games (0 starts) and was a gameday inactive for the other game. On defense, he notched up 7 tackles (all solo), 2 tackles for a loss, 1 sack and 1 QB hit. He also had 6 special teams tackles (4 solo).
Scott will be back in 2021 competing for one of the reserve safety spots on the depth chart.
Black had an effective college career as a free safety at Baylor without it ever being outstanding, so it probably wasn’t surprising therefore that he went unselected in the 2020 draft. The Packers signed him as an undrafted free agent immediately after the draft on 29th April to compete for a roster spot at safety.
Black impressed in limited camp time, and whilst he was waived at the final cutdown to the 53 man roster on 5th September, the Packers wanted to keep him around and signed him to the Practice Squad the following day. Black was elevated to the active roster on 4 occasions – in each of weeks 7-10 – including twice as a COVID-19 replacement. He was signed to the full active roster on 8th December when Raven Greene was placed on Injured Reserve.
In total, Black played in 8 regular season games (0 starts) making 3 total tackles (all solo) and forcing 1 fumble (against the Texans in week 7) on 27 defensive snaps. He also played 112 snaps on special teams, where he notched up 7 tackles (4 solo).
Black is likely to be in a difficult battle again for a roster spot in 2021.
Innes Gaines had a solid 4 year career at TCU but wasn’t selected in the 2020 draft. The Packers signed Gaines to a reserve/futures contract on 8th January 2021 – he will be an outsider in terms of obtaining a final roster spot, but it will be interesting to see him compete in the off-season.
No Longer With the Team
The Packers signed Griffin as an undrafted free agent immediately after the 2020 draft in April (a deal which included a minimal $7,000 signing bonus). Griffin played linebacker at Texas State, but in the NFL, he projected to safety, which is where the Packers looked to use him – in essence as that “in the box” third safety along the lines of Raven Greene. However, Griffin had limited training camp opportunities to show what he could do at a new position and was released on 12th August – making room for WR Malik Turner on the Packers off-season roster.
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