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Eric Reid Signing Could Negatively Impact the Packers

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Eric Reid Signing Could Negatively Impact the Packers

Eric Reid may have re-set the market for safeties now that he has signed a three-year deal from Carolina for $21.7 million with a $7.5 million signing bonus.  In addition, Reid has $1.95 million in incentives over the course of the deal.  If it turns out not to be an outlier, the Packers might have to spend more in free agency if they want to take that route to find help for their depleted safety position.

Reid will have cap hits of $4.4 million for 2019, $8M ($5 million dead money) and $9.55 million in 2020 with $2.5 million dead, according to Sportrac.  The deal has a one-year out of $9.4 million with $5 million dead, and a two-year out of $14.9 million with a $2.5 million dead money charge.  The AAV is $7.35 million, which makes him the tenth highest-paid safety.  

The Packers have Tramon Williams, Josh Jones, Raven Greene, Jason Thompson, Will Redmond and Tray Mattews under contract.  Kentrell Brice is a restricted free agent, but he is unlikely to receive a tender.  The Packers might be interested in re-signing Ibraheim Campbell, who is an unrestricted free agent.  While I found some of those players encouraging, the unit needs an infusion of talent.

What is concerning about the size of Reid's deal is that there are quite a few free agent safeties available this year, and Reid is by no means one of the best ones.  Moreover, he played strong safety for the Panthers, though he has some experience playing free safety, which to my mind has more value.  There were reports that Reid improved as the season progressed, as he needed some time to shake off the rust caused by missing training camp and playing for a new team that only signed him in time for week four of the season, much like Bashaud Breeland with the Packers.  

Still, the free agent market seems to have a lot of decent safeties.  Earl Thomas and LaMarcus Joyner and Landon Collins are generally considered to be the cream of the crop, though some have suggested that Joyner and Collins had down years.  Adrian Amos and Tyrann Mathieu probably would be the next best safeties.  The next step down for strong safeties specifically might include Kenny Vacarro, Jordan Phillips, Clayton Geathers, and Adrian Phillips, who were all rated very similarly to Reid by Pro Football Focus.  I have not been a fan of Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, but he and Tre Boston are likely to be viewed as attractive free safeties.  The next tier down includes Corey Graham, Antone Exum, Reggie Nelson, Ron Parker, Jimmy Ward, and the ancient Mike Adams.

Some of these free agents will be tagged or re-signed by their current team.  Adrian Amos of the Bears is tempting both because he is good and losing him would hurt Chicago.  The Bears currently have $7.2 million in salary cap space, according to Overthecap, but are widely expected to release Dion Sims to gain an additional $6 million in space.  They have several free agents, chiefly Amos, Callahan, and perhaps Aaron Lynch.  The franchise and transition tags are likely to be too large for Chicago to use on Amos.  I expect Chicago to try to reach a long-term contract with Amos to keep the cap charge down.    

Similarly, Anthony Harris of the Vikings played well for the Vikings, though he is a bit of a one-year wonder.  He is also a restricted free agent.  The Vikings currently have about $6.5 million in salary cap space.  They have quite a few decisions to make regarding their own impending free agents, including Anthony Barr, Sheldon Richardson, and perhaps Latvius Murray.  There has even been some speculation about cap casualties and/or pay cuts involving Andrew Sendejo, Kyle Rudolph, and even Everson Griffen.  Harris was an undrafted free agent in 2015.  The Vikings might sign him to a long-term deal, but if not, I would expect them to use the second round tender on Harris.

How will General Manager Gutekunst approach the safety situation?  Perhaps there will prove to be enough depth to the free agency class so that some of the free agent safeties come with a reasonable price tag, even if they are only depth players.  The Packers might make a splash signing and/or add a depth piece plus exploring their options in the draft.  Quite a few of the free agents are roughly as good as Tramon Williams, who is scheduled to receive $4.75 million in cash for 2019.  Williams is a known quantity, he knows the defensive scheme and might have value as a mentor.  Still, no one knows when father time will win the battle.   Williams has a $1 million dollar signing bonus due on March 17, so the decision on him should be made quickly.

I expect General Manager Gutekunst to be a very busy person during the legal tampering period and the first few days of free agency in a number of areas, including the safety position.  It will be interesting to see which players reach free agency, their cost, and how the Packers responds

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (42) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Bearmeat's picture

Last year was the year to grab a FS on the market. And then only because the owners are colluding morons. (Yeah, I said it). It's going to be verrrrry expensive to get one who can run this year.

holmesmd's picture

Why not just draft Adderley? The guy could be great on ST’s and contribute quickly on defense. Develop him up and he may just become an all-pro while still under contract? Problem solved, money saved! We can get by with Greene, and the other guys back there IMO. The problem last year was not getting consistent interior pocket pressure in critical situations and poor tackling. If those get fixed, the safety group as a whole will look considerably better than it did.

GBPDAN1's picture

I agree Bearmeat, we should have signed a FA safety last year. Now we will ne paying big dollars if we acquire one

Hawg Hanner's picture

Thought the owners were usually typified as holding down salaries? I was not aware that Ed Reid was not near the top of the barrel. Looks like if you can't toss 4 or 5 mil average with perhaps a bit bigger first year pop you might as well target in draft.

nostradanus's picture

With a new HC and coaching staff, new systems and most likely 20-25% roster turnover, the Packers need to focus on building the right way, focusing on the draft and young, upcoming free agents.

It's ok to sign a young veteran safety in the second wave of free agency, but not over pay for guys like Thomas.

The true focus this year should be:

A. Improvement
B. A winning record
C. Building young talent around LaFleur and Rodgers
D. Getting rid of bad contracts "cutting the fat"
E. Making a real run at the playoffs and S.B. in 2020.

Sorry, I call them as I see them, that is all....

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I was hoping to upgrade the talent base with a FA safety in the $3.5M range who could start or be a third safety in some packages. I was hoping to be able to sign someone like Tre Boston for $5M long-term. Since Reid got $7.35M AAV with 46% guaranteed and good cash flow, I suspect that Boston can't be had for $5M. Never know though.

For big money, I'd only pay a center fielder. I might have been talked into Thomas at $9M AAV but the market doesn't look depressed enough for that to happen. Unless folks are scared off by his age and injury, attitude as well I suppose.

dobber's picture

I think you're underselling Reid a little bit, and savvy GMs will use the fact that he's played a lot more FS than we're giving him credit for to help push the market their way. I think it's still going to be a buyer's market, and I think there will be a selection of players who will be a marked upgrade for the Packers who will 'languish' (meaning, they'll still be there 10+ days after FA opens) on the market. Looking at Reid's deal, that really cheap one-year out looms large.

LambeauPlain's picture

Except his last year in SF, Reid mostly played hybrid LB. A lot of scouts were saying he can't play FS anymore. He's strictly a SS or H ILB now.

Guam's picture

I think Bearmeat has been the primary proponent of the idea that all free agents will be more expensive this year due to the fact that many teams have significant cap space available and it looks like he may be right based on the Reid deal. This is the price of doing business in the NFL in 2019.

I think safety and right guard are the two places where the draft is thin (particularly at safety) and the free agent pool is deep, so I hope Gutekunst is willing to take the plunge and get the Packers some help. Both positions were glaring holes last year. I would be happy with any of the top five safeties as they would be upgrades over what we currently have.

Thank you TGR for an excellent article on the free agent safeties! Very good information.

holmesmd's picture

This guy seems pretty damn good to me!

Guam's picture

He's good, but he is the only one. What if someone draft's him before the Packers get him and we haven't signed a free agent safety?

holmesmd's picture

I’m confident that he will be there at #30 and certainly will be there at #12. They can try to move up or down as the board falls.

Minniman's picture

a) Add me to that group too Guam... there's a lot of loot out there and the Packers are only middle of the table in cap space (with circa $35 M) .

b) Totally agree with your second paragraph. The touted positional strengths of FA and draft align perfectly for the Packers and could be seminal for them in rebuilding to a 2020 run and beyond. It's uncanny how well it's laid out for the Packers.

c) Agree. Thanks James. Your insights into cap structure this last period has been quite educational.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Dobber, I might be underselling Reid - I didn't watch Carolina so I have to go off of stats. Maybe Reid's contract still means GB can pick up a Kenny Vacarro (PFF grade 66.4 while Brice was 51) type for $3M. Reid is better than Vacarro, I think, but not sure he's $4.35M per year better.

CB Robert Alford just signed for 3 yrs, $22.5M ($7.5M AAV). This helps set the market for Breeland. Alford is older (30) but also has played over 900 snaps in each of the last four years. Alford's contract is quite a team friendly deal with just a $4.5M signing bonus. One year, $9M out with $3M dead, or a 2 year, $15M deal with just $1.5M dead. Alford signed with Arizona, which doesn't have as much cap space as one would suppose ($41M).

Handsback's picture

I think your comments hit the nail on the head. The Packers will win or lose as a team fighting for every first down. This will be different from year's past.

Old School's picture

I'm opposed to paying big dollars for an old vet, too. But I think we really need to look at some of these 26-27 year olds.

As I've said, we need 5 on the 53. By my calculations, we don't have five guys better than our current starters. I stand by my assertion that Brice is better than the rest of those guys and that's why two different defensive coordinators have started him instead of Jones, etc.

And our other starter is a 36 year old out-of-position CB. So, IMO, we need two starters, and at least one more good backup, to ADD to Brice and Tramon.

And I don't think we want to go with all rookies or UDFAs or last day picks. We're going to have to draft a safety pretty high. But we need to get a guy in free agency, and we should be looking at the 26-27 year olds. Or we should trade a draft pick to somebody for their guy.

IF we get that guy in FA, then we can draft a guy high and maybe between the two of them they can keep Tramon and Brice on the bench. Then we could HOPE that Greene or Jones or Campbell can become better players.

Trade down #12 to #20. Trade down #30 for an early 2nd and early 4th. That gives us 8 picks in the Top 115 or so.

holmesmd's picture

If you look at games played, Greene was the best FS on the roster before he got hurt. Brice has numerous ridiculous plays that made the back end look like a 3-Stooges movie. Has all the metrics in the world and seems like a nice guy but just can’t consistently show up on Sunday’s. He doesn’t track the ball well and he “fires his gun” either early on tackle or doesn’t break down under control...this the whiffs. He doesn’t take angles well or use the boundary well either. I’ll take a 4.7 guy back there that can at least do the things I mentioned well before a 4.4 guy who can’t do any of them! Draft Adderley at #30. Him and Alexander would be savage in that secondary! Throw King, BB, or Tramon in additionally and you have a very good secondary IMO.

Old School's picture

If Greene is better than Brice, then why have two different DCs started Brice?

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Brice was rated 51 to Greene's 50 by PFF. IDK.

holmesmd's picture

Brice was on the team 1 or 2 years longer, correct? Greene just got to GB last year I thought? He may have been on the practice squad the previous year but I don’t think so. Anyway, MM is known to have favorites. What I found odd was how much MM fawned about Greene after they bailed on Dix. I’ll go by the eye test. I thought Greene had a decidedly better year than Brice, with the qualifier of playing quite a few more snaps. I think the kid can play.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I like Adderly quite a bit. He can be one of the potential plans GB has for this draft. The problem is someone might well take him a few spots ahead of #30. Or there might be someone sitting on the board at #30 too good to pass up. I actually think there will be someone at #30 I like better, but it depends on how the draft goes.

I had hoped to get a player considerably better than Brice at an affordable price just to get some talent in the safety room. Then we will be better able to take advantage of any opportunities that present themselves in FA or the draft.

Failing Adderly, perhaps we go to plan B, or C, and/or take a safety later. Not sure where Thornhill goes for example, and I don't know that much about him, I just keep seeing his name pop up in the conversations of draftniks. I liked Campbell and Greene, but they didn't play long enough to really put a lot of money into them. I'd like to see how Campbell played after he put down some tape for teams to look at and try to find areas to exploit.

stockholder's picture

I don't like the Fantasy of signing someone because we think their going to be better. I thought Williams played pretty good. Throwing money around to fill our imagination doesn't work. I think we should be grateful we have Williams for now. Players get hurt. Some mask injuries. The squeaky wheel should not get the grease. The player that loves Green Bay and plays with heart should get our support. The biggest problem was putting a SS at FS last year. Not Williams. He played with heart, and doesn't have a swelled head, or a high opinion of himself. Finding his replacement is more a worry then his play. We can go it with Williams 1 more year. And lets see who can back him up. Seems SS is more of a question mark to me now.

Old School's picture

Did Tramon play that good?

Tramon can still cover pretty well. He knows tricks. But he's never been a particularly physical tackler. Back in 2012 or 2013 or something, there were a spate of articles about his reluctance, and I believe one of the Bears commented that their plan was to run at him because they didn't think he'd get physical enough to stop them.

If you look at some of the long gainers against us, you'll see Tramon backpedaling furiously trying to stay between the runner and the endzone. He's not really slowing them down much, and I'd like a safety who'd try to make that tackle, personally.

If we aspire to a Super Bowl, we should certainly be looking to get a younger, better player at safety.

PeteK's picture

I'm glad that the market is set, now we can go out and offer Thomas a contract. He's 29 and has a recent injury history so 10 mill guarantee and 30 over 3. If he goes to Dallas than good riddance. If it doesn't work out we can move on. However, he's the type of player that has been missing from our D, hard hitting play maker with post season experience. Mathieu would be my second choice ,but he will probably want more guaranteed money.

jannes bjornson's picture

Not many guys get faster after two broken legs.

Minniman's picture

Strictly speaking, true.

But it really depends where the fracture was and how severe it was.

If it were at or near an articulation (Ankle, Knee, Foot) and was a complicated fracture type (compound, oblique or commuted) then Rome-to-a-brick he's lost a step.

If it was to a "lesser" bone (like the Fibula which only takes about 30% of the weight - as opposed to the Tibia) or mid-bone, and was a Simple fracture, then the full recovery prognosis is a lot brighter.

...... Mo Wilkerson's injury sounds like it's a 50:50 (probably worse) that he'll be back his former self - due it it's location (ankle) and type (unspecified, but "gruesome"). His size won't help things either.

Old School's picture

When you sign a FA, you've outbid 31 other teams for their services. By definition, this is overpaying.

Fixing the safety spot is not going to be easy. Maybe we should have thought about that before we let Hyde, Burnett, Whitehead and Dix hit the trail.

dobber's picture

With that logic, no one should ever sign any free agents. Overpaying is all relative: what's your outlay vs. the return? You can say you're outbidding other teams, but it's also establishing a value that's different from other teams based on what you expect to get in return. Plenty of FAs bust based on their contracts, but plenty also turn out to be steals...and, yes, the team that signed the steal outbid everyone else to get that player.

Minniman's picture

Old School, instead of looking at it in black and white like your comment has, I think that the chronology of events around these players paints a different picture to incompetence.

It wasn't too many years ago that the Packers had almost an embarrassment of riches at DB, hence some of these guys were let walk at the end of their rookie contracts or in FA.

From memory Dix was drafted to replace MD Jennings (Ugghh!) and paired with Burnett was an instant upgrade. Tramon and Shields were the CB's and Hayward and Hyde were the slot and utility back. The next year Randall and Rollins were drafted and had good rookie years. Ha Ha goes to the Pro Bowl in his second season.

Next Tramon and Hayward walk in FA, but the Packers are thinking that they already have their replacements - and cap space and comp picks are in the offing so why not take them.

Start of the next season after that and Shields goes down game 1, Randall and Rollins regress (and get injured - same for Burnett) and Ha Ha starts his downward spiral of disinterest.

..... No GM could have preempted that level of injury, regression and dis-interest.

With King, Alexander, Tramon, Jackson and (hopefully) Breeland as the core, one more strategic superior player could make this a solid unit.

D.D. Driver's picture

Randall for Kizer keeps looking worse and worse. The Browns moved Randall back to safety and he played well for them. And the Packers have one more hole to fill.

Barnacle's picture


The Randall trade was to appease an incompetent HC. Maybe a full powered GM would have gotten rid of the HC and solved the real problem.

PeteK's picture

How quickly we forget. Randall was a discontent in the club house. The trade to the worse team in the NFL was a wake up call and to his credit , he shut his mouth and played.

jannes bjornson's picture

That's the Company line. He did bail on playing hurt during the Lion's game of 2017, but at least he was not a complete fraud like Dix with his lame performance. Dix should have been moved out right away. DaMarious had the
skill set for centerfield. As the previous poster mentions this is another in a long line of McCarthy mis-plays and a true GM would have shut him up.

Ezra's Hotdog's picture

Randall openly complains about the lack of accountability by the coaching staff and gets traded. They players council states the same thing to Mark Murphy and McCarthy gets fired. I agree, one has to wonder if a full powered GM would have appeased the head coach because a player openly questioned the coaching staff.

D.D. Driver's picture

Be that as it may. Gute traded a serviceable player for *Deshone Kizer*. He created another roster hole and got effectively nothing in return.

Locker room friction is part of the game. You still don't trade for Deshone Kizer.

A Pickled Packer's picture

Jump at nothing, think Graham, wait to see what shakes out after a week, find a bargain, try go to get "Herb" Adderly in the draft, or see if Josh Jackson can pan out back there. No need to overspend here, I think we have more glaring needs elsewhere.

Curt's picture

A stronger and more consistent pass rush would solve a lot of safety woes.

Old School's picture

We finished 7th in sacks and sack percentage.

LambeauPlain's picture

Josh Jackson played well as a ball hawking CB at IA in a zone scheme.

He struggled at press coverage in GB as Pettine likes to play. He likes disruption on the perimeters which fits Alexander and King (if he can stay on the field), Breeland (sign him!) and Brown (looks like a keeper). Not Jackson.

Move him to FS where he can use his instincts, ball hawking, and eyes on the QB tracking he used at IA.

Christian Roussel's picture

I know it would take a chunck of available cap space, but if you want the defense to improve quickly, FA is the way to go. The young secondary would benifit having a veteran player in centerfield, rather than having first and second year players all over the place.

LambeauPlain's picture

The top end of the draft has some very good Safeties...especially at FS.

If Gutey uses one of his first 3 selections on a S, he will get a very good one.

And I hope his name ends up being Nasir Adderly. He looks to be the real deal and had Nick Collins-like college production. And he can play slot CB. He will see the field a lot in his rookie season.

Holecrap's picture

Safety, edge, OL. Those should be the most apparent needs to replace deadwood. We have a 37 year old Safety, two 34 year old Edges at LB and the O line, one real good one and a good center and nothing else. Beluga gets injured showering these days.

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