As of this past Monday, the Green Bay Packers voided the contracts of 7 players. This makes them Free Agents at the start of the new league year. Amongst these 7 was safety Adrian Amos. While Amos could still be a candidate for a new contract, it had me wondering how we’d replace him. One idea could be to move Rasul Douglas to Safety.
A down year for Amos
Adrian Amos has often floated under the radar for the Packers, having solid seasons in the backfield. Every year since he signed with the Packers in 2019, he’s been a pretty consistent weapon in the secondary. However, in 2022 he saw a bit of a drop off in his production. While it wasn’t significant, it has had some Packer fans curious if the 30-year-old safety is starting to slow down. While he had a career-high in total tackles, he gave up 8.1 yards per target, compared to 5.7 in 2021. He gave up six touchdowns through the air and compared to his average 2 INT’s and 8 passes defensed during his Packers career, he only had 1 INT and 5 PDEF’s in 2022.
In regard to a defensive back turning to the wrong side of 30 years old, the skeptics are going to start their murmurs. It seems to me that there’s a chance the Packers could let Amos test the open market. I wouldn’t be surprised though for the test to be on a “let us know” basis. Amos has been a solid year-round starter for Green Bay ever since his signing. So, they could be just hoping the price tag falls for #31 before they reel him back in. If not though, who’s going to replace Adrian Amos?
Rasul at Safety
This idea was toyed with a bit during the season. However, with the season-ending injury to Eric Stokes, it never quite came to fruition. Rasul Douglas has the skills to make the switch. Per Defensive Coordinator Joe Barry, “you could put him (Douglas) anywhere on the back end, and he’d find a way.”
One thing is for sure, slot-corner is not for Douglas. Before the injury to Eric Stokes, Rasul Douglas was lined up as the slot-corner. If you know anything about types of receivers in football, you know that slot-receivers are usually the fastest. Apparently, Joe Barry didn’t get this memo, and had Douglas struggling at the slot. Rasul does not possess the type of speed that say Jaire Alexander or Eric Stokes might have to keep up with those players. Not only that, but Douglas is bet fit for jamming receivers at the line of scrimmage. That was 100% not a common attribute for Barry’s defense in 2022.
I’d be amiss if I didn’t mention the other starting safety on the Packers roster. Darnell Savage has been essentially average for the Packers in his four-year career. He’s been just good enough to keep his starting job and receive his 5th year option as a first-round pick, but he’s always kind of lacked.
Part of the reason chatter rose around Rasul Douglas moving to safety was for the effort to maximize Darnell Savage’s talents. He’s a bit quicker than Douglas and might be better suited for 1 on 1 matchups than a varying safety role. Being more centered in the action than behind the action could be better for Savage.
This did in fact pay off in week 17 when Savage was in the right place to intercept a tipped pass and return it 75 yards for a touchdown. With more time, perhaps a nickel-corner role is best for Savage.
Perhaps he will move
Along with Adrian Amos, another possible starting safety, Rudy Ford is set to hit Free Agency. If at least one of those players doesn’t return, I’d almost make it a certainty that Rasul Douglas spends the offseason preparing to play the Safety position.
Unless there’s a big free agent splash somewhere somehow, or a rookie safety is drafted that is believed to be a day 1 starter, Douglas will transition. You have to maximize your talent, and I think if Eric Stokes returns with a clean bill of health, you have your top 2 Corners. This leaves the ability to move Douglas to safety and see what Darnell Savage can do in the slot.
Perhaps he won’t
So, there’s the obvious situation of why Rasul Douglas may not move to Safety, and that’s the return of Adrian Amos. I think the return of Amos would give the Packers more confidence to try a younger safety next to him and alternate between that and Darnell Savage.
But it’s not just that. The Packers hired a new Defensive Backs coach in Greg Williams. Williams is known to be a press-man defensive back’s coach. This would be right up Rasul Douglas’ alley. Give Douglas the opportunity to play press-man and suddenly he’s perhaps utilized at whatever corner position they wish to line him up. Personally, I think Douglas and Stokes should be playing press-man out wide with Jaire Alexander just shadowing the opposition’s best receiver.
Whether it comes to fruition or not, if this team is going to turn around their defense, they have to maximize their talent. I don’t believe they came close to that in 2022. Hopefully with some time to clean up their mistakes and find where they went wrong, they can do just that.
Greg Meinholz is a lifelong devoted Packer fan. A contributor to PackersTalk as well as CheeseheadTV. Follow him on Twitter at @gmeinholz. for Packers commentary, random humor, beer endorsements, and occasional Star Wars and Marvel ramblings.