The Green Bay Packers made a move to shore up their secondary on the most recent day of roster cuts, trading Josh Jackson to the New York Giants for cornerback Isaac Yiadom. Jackson had been struggling the last couple of seasons, and his poor performance in the preseason opener against the Houston Texans was the final straw for Brian Gutekunst. Netting anything in return for Jackson has to be seen as a positive for Green Bay, given they were likely going to cut him anyway.
Jackson’s reputation within the Packers organization had been slipping, so a one-for-one change of scenery for each player may work out best for both parties. Yiadom (pronounced YEAH-dom) will be playing for his third team in as many seasons and will be looking for a chance to prove himself before his rookie contract is up. The opportunity is there for Yiadom to seize a role within defensive coordinator Joe Barry’s defense.
So, why did the Packers make the trade for Yiadom? To shore up any positional holes in the secondary, while also making an upside play. Betting on Yiadom’s consistency as opposed to Jackson’s up-and-down play appears to be the move for a unit seeking stability, especially in the wake of their defensive collapse in the NFC Championship game last season.
Build on your Strengths
The presence of Jaire Alexander alone makes Green Bay’s secondary one of the better units in the league. However, with incumbent No. 2 starter Kevin King nursing a bevy of injuries and first-round pick Eric Stokes having yet to play a regular-season snap, depth is an obvious concern to the group. King’s relative unreliability due to health concerns and Stokes’ newness to the NFL dictate that the positional depth needs to be top notch in the event that a replacement were needed for whatever reason.
This is why the Packers are rolling the dice on Yiadom. A third-round pick by the Broncos in 2018, Yiadom has started 19 out of a total 45 regular season games played in his NFL career. While the numbers aren’t great (one career INT in 2018), Yiadom has the physical measurements to make a competent backup CB.
Yiadom’s 4.52 40 time isn’t wowing anyone, but it is quick enough and pairs well with his 6’1” frame. The outgoing Jackson stands at 6’0″ and ran a 4.56 40, so the swap is like-for-like physically. For the fourth CB on the defense, having the size and quickness to match up with a broad stroke of pass-catchers is key in earning snaps.
The smartest teams lean into their strengths as they build their rosters. Replacing another player to ensure there are no personnel deficiencies is a shrewd move by a team that is in Super Bowl-or-bust mode.
Having a player that can reliably defend in that CB4 position is more important than a high-risk, high-reward player. Jackson, who was impressive during his time at Iowa, has consistently failed to meet those lofty expectations at the NFL level.
Recency bias is afoot, but it became clear in the preseason game against the Texans that Jackson was not going to take a leap this year. The Houston quarterbacks threw Jackson’s way 10 times on Saturday and completed seven of them. Jackson had a couple deflections as well, but the eye test did not lie: It was clear Jackson was outmatched, and this test came against a team that is projecting to be one of the NFL’s worst this season.
Yiadom was never a high-tier starter last year in New York. However, he will be able to slot in as the fourth guy behind Alexander, Stokes, and King in Green Bay. Taking the pressure off should help Yiadom immensely as he will not be relied upon primarily to cover teams’ top receivers. However, if he needs to be called into action, Yiadom has the starting pedigree to step up to the plate.
A Win for Both Teams
It sure would seem that this Giants fan is happy about the trade:
It just so happens that this guy captured exactly how many Packers fans feel about Jackson. So many fans were rooting for him, but it just was not working out. A change of scenery is going to be highly beneficial for both players. Jackson will have a chance to recapture his collegiate form and make the roster for a Giants team that is in desperate need of talent.
Yiadom should, barring an unexpected dip in form, slot in comfortably as a backup CB and provide help on special teams. The bar is set low, which is a great situation for a player like Yiadom who is seeking opportunity. This trade has all the makings of a positive net gain on the margins, and that is an area where championship teams thrive. Yiadom should fit right in.