Should the Green Bay Packers Bring Back Rudy Ford in 2024?

The Green Bay Packers knew going into this offseason that they needed to upgrade the safety position. Their top three safeties, based on the number of snaps they took last season, were all going to be unrestricted free agents. GM Brian Gutekunst prioritized safety in free agency and signed the highest rated safety available in Xavier McKinney. But that only settles one of the two starting positions at safety? How should the team fill the other?

One logical option would be to re-sign the only remaining free agent among last year’s top three players at the position who hasn’t signed with a new team and that is Rudy Ford.

Ford spent the last two seasons with the Packers and played in 30 games over that time, starting 15 of them. Nine of those starts came last season before he suffered a season-ending injury and was placed on injured reserve.

Despite missing four games, Ford led the Packers in interceptions with two. He picked off five passes in his two years with the team.

According to Pro-Football-Reference.com, opposing quarterbacks completed 60.7 percent of their passes when throwing to receivers covered by Ford and their quarterback rating was just 65.0.

The site also said Ford missed seven tackles last season which made his missed tackle percentage 9.0.

There are some strong reasons to bring Ford back despite the fact that he’s going to turn 30 in November. The veteran is familiar with teammates like Jaire Alexander and Eric Stokes. While Ford may not be the ideal box safety that new defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley is looking for, he did grade out satisfactory against the run according to Pro Football Focus and was on the field for 275 rushing snaps last season.

The Packers could also re-sign Ford to a reasonable contract. The Auburn alum had a cap hit of $1.5 million last season according to overthecap.com. That is a very reasonable salary for a player that started more than half of your games.

Even if he doesn’t earn a starting job in the secondary, Ford can be your third safety and give the team experienced depth at the position. As an injury fill-in, Ford would be able to step in and give the team competent play whenever called upon.

Ford can also contribute on special teams when needed and played 52 snaps there in 2023 after being on the field for 108 snaps the previous season in Green Bay.

The alternatives are not that great right now. The roster at safety is thin. The only player on the current roster with even some reasonable amount of experience on defense is Anthony Johnson, Jr. who played in 12 games and started four in his rookie season. Johnson was a seventh-round pick out of Iowa State. He played 303 snaps on defense which was 40 percent of the snaps in the games he played. Johnson made his first career interception and showed flashes of ability but is he ready to start in 2024?

The free agent safety market isn’t strong at this point and almost any player the Packers could sign would cost more than Ford and may not give the team much more on the field.

The Packers will almost certainly add at least one safety in the 2024 NFL Draft, but the draft class at the position is not considered strong. That means it’s unclear if any of the players Gutekunst will select will be ready to start as rookies.

Signing Ford to a one-year, team friendly deal will allow the Packers to have an experienced starter on the roster while the rookie makes adjustments to the NFL and learns the new defense.

There are other options out there besides Ford but bringing him back would make sense under the present circumstances. At the very least, he’d add inexpensive depth and experience to a group that needs both.

 

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8 points
 

Comments (36)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
LLCHESTY's picture

March 21, 2024 at 12:14 pm

Giving Ford a vet minimum deal with a small signing bonus and some incentives should have been done already. OTC had his 2023 valuation at $5 million. However there was some weirdness going on with his PT towards the end of the year and then they put him on IR so there might be some bad blood there. He had a better year than Savage and Owens so getting him back on the cheap would be a good decision.

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Minniman's picture

March 21, 2024 at 03:28 pm

If the kickoff return rules come to pass, then the Packers are going to want all the safety and LB's that they can get.

Whilst Ford wasn't a first choice starter in the secondary, he was serviceable - but his true value would be special teams.

I'd do it.

.... they can always pin any of the side-trash on the old regime anyway!

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Coldworld's picture

March 21, 2024 at 06:49 pm

He may want to wait before signing a deal like that to see if he can do better. I wanted him and Wilson back. Wilson just agreed. I’d like to see Ford come back into range too as the rush quietens. Hopefully he and the FO feel the same. Owens getting a 2 year deal at more than the minimum could be a delaying factor though. Was Owens really better than Ford?

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harleycops's picture

March 21, 2024 at 12:19 pm

Guter's first two pickups in FAgency were great. He's signed a few others for depth. Now it's been crickets since. And still we need DBs when guys like Curl, K. Fuller, & J.Fuller were available. They signed for reasonable salaries and bring some excellent covers to our defense. This article suggests Ford as a last resort. Head-scratcher for me....

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Alberta_Packer's picture

March 21, 2024 at 12:34 pm

My question in bringing Ford back is his durability and availability. Last season he was plagued with a variety of injuries - calf, biceps and hamstring (of course). My next question is - was this just an unfortunate year for Ford or the beginning of a precipitous fall that each ageing player faces?

A healthy and a little younger Ford would be a no-brainer to bring back - especially on or about the league minimum. All things considered - I think it's more likely that he is not resigned. However, if resigned, at the veteran's minimum and subject to a physical.

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splitpea1's picture

March 21, 2024 at 12:37 pm

Yes, because he was the best overall safety the Packers had last year. The missed tackle rate of only 8% is very good, especially when you compare him to Johnson, Jr., who checked in at a whopping 28%--last in the league for safeties playing at least 300 snaps.

I would feel a heck of a lot more confident with Ford out there. He's experienced, provides depth, and is priced very reasonably. Bring him back!

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LLCHESTY's picture

March 21, 2024 at 12:57 pm

Also was the only Packer with 2 interceptions in the regular season.

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Coldworld's picture

March 21, 2024 at 06:52 pm

I would have no problem seeing Ford start on a slot basis. If you can say that of a back up, keep him if you can at a reasonable price. In his case we should be in that rare window where we can.

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jannes bjornson's picture

March 21, 2024 at 01:20 pm

One would think he would have been signed up, if they were targeting his return. Maybe he's nursing an injury?
He is still on the market.

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T7Steve's picture

March 21, 2024 at 12:41 pm

If the Rich B wants him, then bring him back. Wasn't that the reason he was originally picked up in the first place? I know they're going with youth, but experience on teams will go a long way to help shoring up those units.

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LLCHESTY's picture

March 21, 2024 at 12:56 pm

Not really, he played 25% of the STs snaps in '22 and 15% in '23

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jannes bjornson's picture

March 21, 2024 at 01:23 pm

He brought Nixon onboard and Leavitt as a Sp. Teams guy.

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T7Steve's picture

March 21, 2024 at 01:32 pm

Thanks. The other guy I must have been thinking of is Wilson the LB STer.

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LLCHESTY's picture

March 21, 2024 at 01:33 pm

They signed Wilson today.

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LambeauPlain's picture

March 21, 2024 at 02:06 pm

That was good to see.

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CanPackFan's picture

March 21, 2024 at 04:41 pm

Regretably, I've lost a bit of confidence in Rich B after the Anders Carlson selection. I still think Rudy has more serviceable value on defense versus STs.

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Cheezehead72's picture

March 21, 2024 at 12:51 pm

The thing we do not know is that the Packer might have already offered him a low contract and he might be waiting it out to see what happens.

3 points
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Packer_Fan's picture

March 21, 2024 at 01:00 pm

At this point, the Packers should sign a vet close to a vet minimum. Sure they could draft one or two safeties, but one is never sure just how well a rookie well a rookie will play. So yes, Ford would be a good add. I believe they will draft a safety on day one or two and then a late round pick. five safeties would do good for competition in camp.

1 points
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stockholder's picture

March 21, 2024 at 01:00 pm

How does that make us better.
How does that make us younger.
If that happened, he will trade up.
If he trades up for a CB.
The Bust Label is attached to what he already
drafted.
NOT TO MENTION MORE coming WITH ALEXANDER.
Not to mention a loss in draft Ammo.

He knows the loses-
Is he trying to replace Douglass or Owens.

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PeteK's picture

March 21, 2024 at 01:11 pm

You lost me after the first two pts.

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LLCHESTY's picture

March 21, 2024 at 01:35 pm

He's getting better, it's usually after one point. Sometimes none.

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PeteK's picture

March 21, 2024 at 01:08 pm

I would wait until after the draft because if Dejean is drafted he might be our other S. Also, could Nixon or Stokes fill in to that position ?

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jannes bjornson's picture

March 21, 2024 at 01:27 pm

Ford is a physical presence. If he's not re-signed, then the draft will bring in 2-3 more guys to compete. A solid safety class in '24. The One-High guy has to be a sure tackler. Those two?

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crayzpackfan's picture

March 21, 2024 at 02:02 pm

PeteK - Keep in mind, DeJean has never taken a single snap at safety in college. If he is picked, it would criminal to ruin his NFL chances by trying to force him to play a whole new position. Is he athletic enough? Sure. But it is hard enough to adjust to the NFL playing your natural position, let alone having someone try to pound a square peg into your round hole (God that sounds really bad. Sorry). Anyway, my point is, if we draft him, it would be better we do with him playing corner as our first priority. After he adjusts to the speed of the game, maybe look at him at safety in practice?

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Coldworld's picture

March 21, 2024 at 07:05 pm

Nixon is the starting slot. Behind him is maybe no one, perhaps Rochelle suits, but we don’t know. Stokes is a very fast perimeter guy who doesn’t profile to play in the slot, let alone SS.

Even if we signed DeJean or a similar player, who is the next man up? Another Rookie? Anthony Johnson? With Ford you get a guy who can come in and play deep and close to the line now. He’s not a star but he’s not a scrub and we can develop behind him. He’s also a good ST option available in game days. Go get him and draft as we would have anyway.

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LambeauPlain's picture

March 21, 2024 at 02:02 pm

If signing Ford to near the vet's minimum is a no brainer, what is the hold up?

Perhaps the Packers have told him the most they would pay for one season and Ford may want a multi-year deal or a one year much higher 1 year K.

The S FA class has cleared out quickly. Ford may want to see if he can get a top starter's salary, even though he is not one.

Packers can and will do better than Ford at SS next season. Whether he is resigned as a likely back up is surely in Ford's considerations. Since drafted as a 6th rounder in 2017 the 30 year old hasn't done much.

And maybe Hyde is higher up the list as a safety valve Safety at 33 yrs.

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Leatherhead's picture

March 21, 2024 at 02:24 pm

I think it’s players and agents trying to get the best deal. Ford seems like he’s our 2nd best safety. Signing him cheap is a good idea.

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Cheezehead72's picture

March 21, 2024 at 02:38 pm

We are in the period where teams make low offers to players and agents and player know that after the draft their stock will go up. A team is looking at building through the draft right now but after the draft and they sign their UDFA these players could get a better contract because teams have to fill holes. A player like Ford who will probably get picked up by a team is better to wait it out.

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Starrbrite's picture

March 21, 2024 at 03:42 pm

Rudy-Rudy-Rudy; sign him!
Give him Packers!!!

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Starrbrite's picture

March 21, 2024 at 03:42 pm

Wups—Go Packers!!

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gsd3's picture

March 21, 2024 at 04:28 pm

I would sign him for special teams value if nothing else. Good veteran to have in the db room.
I would not worry about Johnson. He switched to safety his senior year in college. If the vets were confused in Barry's defense, it had to have been worse for him. He will improve.

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CanPackFan's picture

March 21, 2024 at 04:36 pm

I'd like to see Rudy back, but at the right price. He was more consistent in his overall play than Savage. My concern is his health and can he stay healthy? However, I have come to the conclusion that the strength and conditioning of previous years might not have been up to snuff here in GB? Accordingly, I would bring him back, assuming he can pass a physical?

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WD's picture

March 22, 2024 at 08:24 am

Remember the Miami game!........ Rudy... Rudy... Rudy...

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Ima Payne's picture

March 22, 2024 at 10:31 pm

No. If your willing to settle for mediocre versus getting a big upgrade, then your playing cheap ball to save a buck when your nemesis in the NFC north are picking up needed free agents and getting ready to have a draft.

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Llew's picture

March 25, 2024 at 07:51 am

Remember he's a depth piece. In that role he's a solid option.

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Llew's picture

March 25, 2024 at 07:58 am

I would agree with LambeauPlain. Given his performance last year...and his age...he may very well be looking for more than a one year deal. Also, given his performance in '23, he may feel he's earned the chance to at least compete for a starting job somewhere.

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