Packers Now Likely to Lose $8 Million Starter Next Month

Darnell Savage, Packers

Getty Safety Darnell Savage of the Green Bay Packers.

The Green Bay Packers are looking at some meaningful roster turnover come free agency next month, particularly in the secondary.

Arguably the most prominent player who will hit the market is starting safety and former first-round draft pick Darnell Savage. Green Bay was unable to reach an extension with the defensive back ahead of a deadline last week, which means Savage’s contract voided. The result was a nearly $5.5 million dead cap hit to the Packers’ books in 2024 and the certainty that Savage will test free agency once it officially opens on March 13.

ESPN’s Rob Demovsky authored an examination of the Packers’ pending free agents on Monday, February 26. He started the lengthy piece off writing about Savage, though he noted in an introductory section that none of the team’s free agents — including its starting safety — qualified as a “must re-sign” type of player.

“One league source who has analyzed the free agent market estimated that Savage would be the highest-priced player among the Packers’ free agent class this season, estimating he would garner a deal with an annual average between $5 million and $7 million,” Demovsky wrote. “Savage has some tangential connection to new Packers defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley. … However, at this point, there have been no negotiations between Savage and the Packers.”

Darnell Savage’s Agent Indicated He Will Communicate With New Teams During Free Agency

GettyGreen Bay Packers safety Darnell Savage.

Demovsky also spoke with Seth Katz, Savage’s agent, for Monday’s article. Katz relayed positive vibes on the part of the safety toward the organization, but also spoke as a man preparing to negotiate for his client with multiple new teams.

“Darnell loved his time in Green Bay, and we remain optimistic that a deal can get done before the league year,” Katz told Demovsky. “But realistically, the window for free agent communication is around the corner, and there will be significant interest in Darnell.”

The chances of Savage and the Packers reaching a new deal ahead of the league year, which Katz referenced, plummeted when the deadline passed and the DB’s contract voided, as reaching an extension would have allowed the franchise to dodge the ensuing cap hit. Savage completed a four-year rookie deal worth $12.5 million in total before playing the 2023 campaign on a $7.9 million fifth-year team option.

He battled injury issues involving his shoulder and calf last season, which collectively caused him to miss seven of 17 regular-season games. He played in both playoff contests, netting an interception that he returned for a touchdown in the Packers’ road victory over the Dallas Cowboys.

Packers Still Have Financial Issues After NFL Salary Cap Spike

Packers Interest Taylor Trade

GettyGreen Bay Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst.

The NFL recently announced that the salary cap for each team will jump more than $30 million in 2024, which is good news for a Green Bay team facing some financial issues heading into this offseason. However, Bill Huber of Sports Illustrated reported on February 25 that the spike is far from a cure-all for the Packers’ woes.

“According to numbers from, the Packers still have the ninth-worst cap situation in the league,” Huber wrote. “OTC’s fresh numbers show the Packers are about $2.34 million under the salary cap. Once the draft class is signed, they’ll be about $2.18 million on the wrong side of the ledger just to be cap-compliant, let alone sign free agents or extend Jordan Love.”

Spotrac projects Love to ink a $200 million extension this offseason, and Green Bay is in worse cap shape than all of its NFC North competitors in 2024. As such, the franchise needs to spend every dollar judiciously.

That could mean more than just the departure of Savage, which Demovsky pointed out Monday. All-Pro kickoff returner Keisean Nixon, running back AJ Dillon, offensive guard Jon Runyan Jr. and other meaningful contributors may also be seeking employment elsewhere this March due to the Packers’ financial circumstances.

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