The Green Bay Packers have a lot to do this offseason to get their house in order. Of course, the Aaron Rodgers trade rumors to the New York Jets have dominated headlines so far this week especially. In the course of the speculation that has gone on for the past three months, there have been some key storylines glossed over. In a recent report for ESPN, Rob Demovsky details just how bad the division was between defensive coordinator Joe Barry and former defensive backs coach Jerry Gray. He also names Darnell Savage as a player the Packers may look to move this offseason.
There Was a Serious Disconnect on the Green Bay Packers Coaching Staff
By now, everyone knows that Jerry Gray left the Packers to take a job with the Atlanta Falcons. We also know that he left because his contract with Green Bay had run its course. In Demovsky’s report, he reveals that Gray was offered an extension, but refused to sign it:
“Barry’s return for a third season and the departure of defensive backs coach/passing game coordinator Jerry Gray aren’t independent of each other. Gray, who was a candidate for the job that went to Barry in 2021, declined to accept a contract extension last offseason and instead chose to let his deal expire after the 2022 season.
“In his final season in Green Bay, Gray barely hid his differences with Barry. On multiple occasions, Gray tried to distance himself from Barry’s game plans and personnel decisions, especially when pressed about why Pro Bowl cornerback Jaire Alexander wasn’t used to shadow opponents’ top receivers in certain situations and whether safety Darnell Savage would be better suited to play in the slot.”
The Packers hired Greg Williams to replace Gray, and one would hope that he works better with Barry than Gray did. Perhaps Gray was bitter about being passed over for the defensive coordinator position? After all, he interviewed for it at the same time Barry did. Whatever the case was, it cannot happen in 2023. Obviously, Barry is already immensely unpopular among Packers fans, and his retention did no favors to Matt LaFleur’s own standing among the fan base.
Remember, it was LaFleur who chose Barry over Gray. This offseason, LaFleur chose to retain Barry despite names like Vic Fangio, Brain Flores, and Vance Joseph being on the market. If LaFleur and Barry cannot keep their staff united in 2023, another mediocre season will follow. Even if, especially if, the Packers move on from Aaron Rodgers, such weak leadership will not acceptable.
The Packers May Look to Move Darnell Savage in an Aaron Rodgers Trade
Former first round pick Darnell Savage did not have a good year in 2022. He also did not have a good year in 2021. Over the last two seasons, opposing quarterbacks have passer ratings of 117.4 and 114.2 when targeting him. After allowing just four touchdowns combined in his first two NFL seasons, Savage has allowed 12 over the past two years.
According to Demovsky, part of this was because Savage was playing out of position for most of the season. When used as a slot corner, his production improved dramatically. Part of Demovsky’s report explored Brian Gutekunst’s comments regarding moving Savage to the slot full time, where he excelled, and shifting Rasul Douglas to safety.
Towards, the end of the report, however, Demovsky revealed this interesting detail:
“Savage, however, is a player the Packers would consider trading in a Rodgers deal if they’re trying to offload Savage’s $7.9 million salary that’s guaranteed under the fifth-year option of his rookie deal.”
This is interesting because various reports indicate that if the Packers and Jets agree to a trade, Green Bay will have to eat some of Rodgers’ salary. Would including Savage change the amount that Green Bay has to keep on? If so, why include him at all? That doesn’t sound like it would save the Packers any money this season.
Regardless, it is interesting that Savage is on the trade block. After picking up his fifth year option last offseason, it sounds like Savage may be entering his final season with the team that drafted him. Unless, of course, they move him before the season starts.
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