Jaguars bolster depth at safety by signing Darnell Savage in free agency

• The Jaguars are adding Darnell Savage to their safety room.

Green Bay Packers safety Darnell Savage (26) returns an interception for a touchdown against the
Green Bay Packers safety Darnell Savage (26) returns an interception for a touchdown against the / Wm. Glasheen / USA TODAY

The tampering window of free agency has begun and the Jacksonville Jaguars aren't pulling any punches. Besides signing wide receiver Gabe Davis and center Mitch Morse, they reportedly agreed to terms with veteran Darnell Savage Jr. The move bolsters their depth at safety after releasing Rayshawn Jenkins in a cap-saving move.

Savage is signing a three-year deal with the Jags, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Media. A first-round pick by the Green Bay Packers in 2018, the former Maryland Terrapin could compete with Antonio Johnson for the starting job next to Andre Cisco.

In Green Bay, Savage appeared in 72 games with 69 starts, registering 32 passes defensed, two forced fumbles, and nine interceptions. Although defending the run isn't his strongest suit, his superb coverage skills make him an intriguing addition to the Jaguars secondary. As of this writing, the terms of the agreement but Adam Caplan of Pro Football Network reports he's expected to have an annual salary of $7 million.

This was a good year for the Jaguars to look for safety depth in the open market. The market was devalued after several veterans got released ahead of free agency. Players such as Jenkins, Justin Simmons, Kevin Byard, Jamal Adams, and Jordan Poyer were released ahead of free agency, which might have devalued the position.

On a related note, the Jags also re-signed safety and special teams ace Daniel Thomas, so it doesn't look like they will be looking for safety help in the draft, barring a turn of events.

What does the signing of Darnell Savage mean for the Jaguars in 2024?

It was a bit surprising to see the Jaguars lock up Darnell Savage. While they had a void to fill after the departure of Rayshawn Jenkins, they already had an in-house replacement in sophomore Antonio Johnson.

Johnson, a fifth-round pick last year, dealt with a hamstring injury to start the season but once he was able to contribute, he wasted no time flashing his talent. In eight games, he registered two interceptions, one forced fumble, and three passes defensed. Moreover, he had displaced incumbent veteran Tre Herndon as the team's top nickel.

Given that Johnson was listed as a safety, he was seen as a candidate to replace Jenkins in the starting lineup. Maybe that's still the plan and Savage was signed to provide depth. Conversely, the coaching staff might have decided that Johnson was a much better fit at nickel. Then again, plans change. Last year, they wanted him to play safety but ended up giving him snaps in the slot in training camp.

Working in the Jaguars' favor is Johnson can play multiple slots. Ultimately, they'll have him line up where he's the most effective, even if that means keeping Savage on the sidelines. Either way, signing Savage gives the coaching staff ample flexibility in the defensive backfield.

This wasn't probably a move fans expected the Jaguars to make but they're showing they want to have the best possible depth next season. Moreover, they're willing to spend to acquire players, and they've got a good one in Darnell Savage. it will now be interesting to see what they plan to do with him.

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