Darnell Savage returned to the Green Bay Packers active roster last week after having spent four weeks on the IR with an injured calf. He did so with what was likely his best overall NFL game in three years, helping to limit the Chiefs’ passing game to 201 yards. But Packers rumors have long lingered around Savage and his future, and they’ll continue to do so during this Green Bay stretch run.
In fact, Bleacher Report is predicting that Savage, who is a free agent in the offseason, could very well be wrapping up his Packers career. The folks at B/R see Savage bolting for another Bay—the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Here’s how the site sees things playing out:
“If Antoine Winfield Jr. ends up walking in free agency, Tampa Bay is going to need a free safety who can roam the field. Savage can fill that role, as he has the speed to be a good center fielder and help cover sideline to sideline. He also has good ball skills with nine career interceptions and 31 passes defended in five years.
“While he certainly isn’t the same caliber of player as Winfield is, the Packer will probably be one of the front office’s best options for replacing the 2021 Pro Bowler.”
Packers Rumors Were Plentiful on Darnell Savage
Well before the start of this season, Darnell Savage was a pretty constant subject of Packers rumors. It was a somewhat controversial decision for the team to pick up his $7.9 million fifth-year option, a move that made him the 17th-highest paid safety in football. That’s because Savage, after a strong first two seasons following his first-round selection out of Maryland in 2019, had begun to tail off in the 2021 season.
Still, the Packers gave him the option year payout in the 2022 offseason, a deal that would apply to the 2023 season. And from there, Darnell Savage’s tailing off turned into a tailspin that eventually saw him get benched last year.
But the Packers stuck with him for this season. They had seen enough talent in his first two years—he had been an All-Rookie selection in 2019—to hope that they could wring one last good season out of him before he hit free agency. He could very well likely leave Green Bay, but he is going out on a high note.
Against Kansas City, he rated a Pro Football Focus grade of 85.0, which marked his highest grade since 2020.
‘He’s Really Flipped the Switch’
While the Packers rumors pot was stirred by the Darnell Savage benching last year, this year he has shown a higher level of professionalism and leadership, which has been needed for a team that lost captain Adrian Amos at the safety spot after last year and is packed with youth in the defensive backfield.
The changes were noticeable going back to the start of the season, according to Packers defensive backs coach Ryan Downard.
“I’ve stood up here and told you I believe in him, his abilities. I thought he did a really good job trusting himself, pulling the trigger,” Downard said of Savage back in September. “I just think it’s a product of his preparation. He’s really flipped the switch in terms of practice habits. Not to say that he wasn’t practicing hard in the past. That’s not what I’m saying. But he’s managed to take it to a new level.
“He’s really done a great job, just his overall demeanor and approach. We saw some of the results be reflected.”