The Green Bay Packers may be losing some established veterans to free agency, but general manager Brian Gutekunst was able to bring back one of the team’s most unexpected breakout contributors from last season.
With Aaron Rodgers likely on the move, several other Packers veterans have left for other teams in free agency. Allen Lazard signed a four-year, $44 million deal with the New York Jets to presumably reunite with the future Hall of Fame QB, while others like Robert Tonyan and Dean Lowry signed with Green Bay’s divisional rivals.
Fortunately, at least one solid contributor from the 2022 season is staying. NFL Network insider Tom Pelissero tweeted on Friday, March 18 that the Packers were bringing back safety Rudy Ford on a one-year, $2.5 million deal.
A former Raiders backup, Ford was a key special teams contributor under Rich Bisaccia. He took on a similar role for the Packers before finding his way into a consistent role as a safety for the defense, racking up 44 combined tackles, three interceptions, and a forced fumbles.
Instead of finding a home elsewhere, the 28-year-old will stay in Green Bay and continue to be a solid presence on defense and special teams for 2023.
Will The Packers Still Draft a Safety?
The Packers may have addressed the position this offseason, but they could still look at another safety at some point during the 2023 NFL Draft.
Depth at the position looked nonexistent heading into the offseason with Ford and Adrian Amos both entering free agency. Meanwhile, former first-round pick Darnell Savage will be on the final year of his rookie deal in 2023, giving the team few long-term options.
Now, even without bringing back Amos, the Packers have made a few moves. Along with re-signing Ford, the Packers added veteran safety Tarvarius Moore, a five-year veteran with the San Francisco 49ers.
Still, neither of these contracts are long-term moves for the Packers, and the team still lacks a true impact player at the position. With both Ford and Moore only under short-term deals, finding a long-term answer at safety would still be a wise move in the draft.
Prospects to keep an eye on include Georgia’s Christopher Smith, Alabama’s Jordan Battle, and even lesser-known prospects like Brandon Joseph out of Notre Dame or Illinois’ Sydney Brown.
Latest on Aaron Rodgers
The Packers aren’t taking any big swings with their roster retooling this offseason, but that’s mostly because of the ongoing situation with Rodgers.
The 39-year-old quarterback announced that he intends to play for the Jets in 2023 while appearing on The Pat McAfee Show. However, a trade has yet to be made official with Rodgers noting that the Packers are digging their heels in so that they can maximize their compensation in a move.
There has been little movement on the trade front since then. With the Packers taking on a dead cap hit of $40 million by trading Rodgers before June 1, they can afford to be patient with moving the four-time MVP. The Jets don’t have the same kind of luxury, with virtually no other backup plans available at quarterback on the free agent market.
A lot can change in the coming days or weeks, but as of right now the Packers seem content on waiting things out until the Jets are willing to meet their demands on a trade for their superstar quarterback.