Still plenty of work for Packers to do at safety position

The Green Bay Packers made a big free agency splash, landing safety Xavier McKinney. While the addition of McKinney goes a long way in solving the Packers need at safety and lays a strong foundation at that position, the job for GM Brian Gutekunst is not done yet.

Along with McKinney, the only other safeties on the roster are Zayne Anderson, Benny Sapp, and Anthony Johnson. Anderson is a special teams contributor, as is Sapp, if on the roster. Hopefully, Johnson can continue to develop, but the Packers aren’t going to bank on that with their roster-building strategy.

The Packers have almost no experienced depth on the roster, not to mention that McKinney’s running mate likely isn’t even on the team yet.

From playing deep to lining up in the box or even in the slot, McKinney can fill any role that would be needed from a safety. Where he lines up each week will be dependent upon the opponent and the game plan. However, McKinney will take the majority of his snaps this season as the post-safety since that is where he can provide the most value and make the greatest impact.

As Gutekunst mentioned at the NFL combine, versatility at the safety position is very important. Gutekunst wants the two safety spots and the nickel cornerback to be “interchangeable,” as he put it. So, while the Packers will want to add someone to the roster who has the ability to play deep, a box presence would be an ideal pairing with McKinney, who, again, will spend a lot of time deep.

The top available safety in free agency is Julian Blackmon, who would check those boxes that I just described. Tashaun Gipson, who played under Jeff Hafley when he was the defensive backs coach in Cleveland, Mike Edwards, and John Johnson are three other available free agents.

The Packers have $24.55 million in available cap space, according to Over the Cap, and while a decent portion of that isn’t going to go towards free agents because there are incoming cap expenses coming down the pipeline, such as signing the 2024 draft class, which is projected to take up over $13 million in cap space, many of the safety contracts earned this offseason come with quite reasonable cap hits.

Jordan Fuller signed a one-year deal worth up to $5.25 million. Veteran Jordan Poyer is playing on a one-year deal for $2 million. Kamren Curl joined the Rams at $4.3 million per year over two seasons, while Alohi Gilman is earning just over $5 million on average for the next two years.

With five picks in the top 100, the Packers have the means to address the safety position in the upcoming NFL Draft. With that said, overall this is considered a so-so safety class, and this can often be a position where an immediate impact isn’t made, especially the further into the draft a team gets before addressing that need.

On Daniel Jeremiah’s most recent big board, he does not have any safeties ranked inside the top 50, unless the Packers were to land Cooper DeJean and move him there.

Some of the top players from this position group include Tyler Nubin, Javon Bullard, Jaden Hicks, Kamren Kinchens – who may be off the Packers’ board due to his combine numbers – and Calen Bullock.

Outside of some meat-and-potato additions to bolster the competition to the middle or back ends of the depth chart at certain position groups, the Packers could be done dabbling in free agency in a significant way for the time being.

Unless the Packers were to land Blackmon – which I would guess is a move that would require Blackmon to be available at the right price given the money already spent by the Packers in free agency – this could be a situation where a player like Rudy Ford is signed, Gutekunst sees how the draft unfolds, and if a need still persists, then perhaps sometime before training camp he signs a veteran like Gipson to round out the roster.

Story originally appeared on Packers Wire