The Green Bay Packers are projected to have one of the best defenses in the NFL. Kenny Clark and Jarran Reed will anchor a defensive line that may be the best in Brian Gutekunst era. De’Vondre Campbell is an All-Pro inside linebacker while Preston Smith and Rashan Gary combined for 18.5 sacks on the edges. Jaire Alexander, Rasul Douglas, and Eric Stokes are all among the top 32 highest graded cornerbacks in the NFL, making the Packers the only team with three players on that list. Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage will be the Packers’ starting safeties for the fourth consecutive season.
In other words, the starters on defense are great! The depth, particularly at edge, safety, and cornerback, is not. With $17 million in salary cap space, Green Bay does have the ability to sign some veteran free agents. While many rumors tie the Packers to big-name wide receivers, here I present three defensive free agents who will add much needed depth to the aforementioned defensive positions. As one will see below, if any of the starters at those positions misses any significant time, the present depth does not provide much optimism.
Current Starters: Preston Smith and Rashan Gary
Current Depth: Randy Ramsey, Kingsley Enagbare, Jonathan Garvin, Tipa Galeai, La’Darius Hamilton, Kobe Jones
Free Agent Option: Benson Mayowa
Benson Mayowa went from undrafted in 2013 to a nine-year NFL veteran. During his career, Mayowa has played for the Seattle Seahawks, Oakland Raiders (before they moved to Las Vegas), Arizona Cardinals, and Dallas Cowboys. He had been with the Seahawks on his second stint with the team (he was on their Super Bowl-winning team as rookie). However, Seattle cut him earlier this offseason to open up more salary cap space.
Last season, Mayowa had just one sack and thirty tackles in 15 games played (seven starts). While 2021 may have been a down season, 2018-2020 were very good seasons for the veteran edge rusher. In those seasons, Mayowa had 4.0, 7.0, and 6.0 sacks respectively in 43 games (13 starts) with the Cardinals, Raiders, and Seahawks.
Benson Mayowa with a BIG MAN SACK and Sean Lee recovers the fumble. pic.twitter.com/iEBtMb8T18
— Cowboys Nation (@CowboysNation) December 12, 2016
While Kingsley Enagbare, a fifth round draft pick, is likely to see his fair share of snaps on the defense, the rest of the depth is unproven at best. While Mayowa is a career second-string edge rusher, that is exactly what the Packers need.
Current Starters: Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage
Current Depth: Shawn Davis, Vernon Scott, Innis Gaines, Tariq Carpenter, Tre Sterling
Free Agent Option: Andrew Adams
Like Benson Mayowa, free agent safety Andrew Adams was an undrafted free agent who has become a reliable NFL veteran. After spending his first two seasons with the New York Giants, Adams has spent the last four seasons as a backup safety for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
📽 Andrew Adams intercepte David Blough ! #GoBucs pic.twitter.com/vUIEoQ0eQR
— NFL France (@NFLFrance) December 15, 2019
Adams’ best season was 2018 when he had four interceptions and nine passes defended in 13 games (four starts). That year, opposing quarterbacks had a 39.9 passer rating when targeting Adams. Last season, Adams played in 14 games (three starts), and had one interception and four passes defended. While not as dominant as his 2018 season, opposing quarterbacks still had just a 79.2 passer rating when targeting him.
Another benefit to signing Andrew Adams would be his experience on special teams. Over the past two seasons, especially, Adams has played 541 special teams snaps, over 60% of the Bucs’ plays in that facet of the game.
Current Starters/Top Three: Jaire Alexander, Eric Stokes, Rasul Douglas
Current Depth: Shemar Jean-Charles, Rico Gafford, Thomas Kiondre, Kabion Ento, Raliegh Texada, Keisean Nixon
Free Agent Option: Joe Haden
Unlike the first two free agents on this list, Joe Haden was drafted in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns. Throughout his career, he was named to the Pro Bowl three times and was Second Team All-Pro once.
Also unlike the previous two free agents on this list, Haden has primarily been a starter for the majority of his career. He is a free agent this offseason after playing in 12 games last season. Haden was limited by a mid-foot sprain that caused him to miss numerous games. He had no interceptions and six passes defended last year.
For Joe Haden, it may be time for him to start sliding into reserve roles on defense. That is why the Green Bay Packers would be such a good fit for him. Haden would not have to be THE guy in the secondary as the Packers already have three of the best in the league.
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