American Football

Green Bay Packers State of the Roster: Safety


NFC Divisional Playoffs - Green Bay Packers v San Francisco 49ers
Photo by Ryan Kang/Getty Images

At the moment, the Packers’ starting safeties going into the 2024 season are Anthony Johnson Jr. and Benny Sapp III.

The final position group we’re going to touch on in our State of the Roster series is safety, arguably the biggest positional need the Green Bay Packers have to address this offseason. The three players who have started for the Packers consistently at the position over the last two seasons are expected to leave in free agency this year. On top of that, the team’s change in defensive coordinator from Joe Barry, who ran a split-safety scheme, to Jeff Hafley, who is expected to run a single-high defense, only adds more change to the position.

As a reminder, here’s our position-by-position publishing schedule for this series:

Under Contract: Anthony Johnson Jr., Benny Sapp III, Zayne Anderson and Tyler Coyle

Free Agents: Darnell Savage, Jonathan Owens and Rudy Ford

Currently, the most experienced player the Green Bay Packers have in their safety room at the moment is 2023 draft pick Anthony Johnson Jr., who played just 27 percent of the team’s total defensive snaps last season. Behind him is Benny Sapp III, the undrafted rookie who played three snaps on the defensive side of the ball last year. For perspective, Sapp played less defense than either Dallin Leavitt or Innis Gaines, who were both released from the Packers during the 2023 regular season.

So to say that the cupboard isn’t full would be an understatement for the Packers. Over the last three years, the team’s most-played safeties have been Darnell Savage, Jonathan Owens and Rudy Ford, all players who are going to be unrestricted free agents going into 2024. You could make the case that the safety position is where the team struggled the most during the Joe Barry era, meaning that the team probably isn’t inclined to be the highest bidder for the services of these players moving forward.

So where does that leave the team? Honestly, looking for help. The Packers have 11 draft picks going into the 2024 offseason and they can play around with their cap situation to free up some room for a veteran if needed. What’s clear, though, is they can’t run back the secondary they put together for the 2023 season.

Special teamer Zayne Anderson or practice-squadder Tyler Coyle may end up taking that next step and earn themselves a roster spot, but the assumption is that Green Bay will be adding a lot more bodies and competition to the position this offseason. Another name to highlight here is Christian Young, who is currently listed as a linebacker by the team. Young was a college safety who transitioned to the linebacker position recently. In Hafley’s single-high defense, he may have a role as a strong safety.

The increased amount of roster spots that will need to be allocated to the off-ball linebacker position as the team transitions to a 4-3 defense could leave the team a little light at safety, but you should still expect the team to hold onto about five of them — with the way special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia likes to use them on the third phase of football. Johnson and Sapp will likely be fighting for roster spots on the lower end of that math equation, as Green Bay should be in the market to add two starters and potentially some depth pieces at safety in March and April.

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