By Dayna O’Gorman // @DaynaOG
Safety is a position that has always had its superstars. Ed Reed, Ronnie Lott, Rod Woodson, Rodney Harrison, so many great athletes have played safety. When looking at this season’s free agent safeties, you can easily find one future Hall of Famer, with a possibility of a few more. These are impact players, and teams should be sending armored trucks full of cash to their houses, but there is a good chance that won’t happen.
I asked NFL columnist Mike Freeman what his thoughts on the market for safeties would be this year. He wasn’t optimistic. “It may be a while before we see a thriving safety market. I could be wrong but despite defenses dominating the Super Bowl, we’re still seeing teams devalue the position.”
He’s not alone. Many analysts and members of the media agree that the market will probably not be what many players hope it will be. Case in point, Eric Reid.
Reid was set to become a free agent this year, but the Carolina Panthers re-signed him to another contract after he played well for them last season. Reid had sat out the first month of the season after filing a collusion grievance with the NFL, which has now been settled. Reid’s contract is for 3 years, $22 million. Not a monster contract by any means. The question has been asked if this contract will set the tone for the rest of the market.
When one speaks about Earl Thomas, the words Hall of Fame often come right after his name. Playing his entire career in Seattle, he was a founding member of the famous Legion of Boom. Last season he had 22 tackles and 3 interceptions in just 4 games before his season-ending leg injury. After holding out for a new contract during preseason last year, it is pretty evident he won’t be returning to the Pacific Northwest, however, it hasn’t been completely ruled out.
Thomas wants to be the highest paid safety in the league, a title which is currently held by Eric Berry (6 yr $78 million). But with injuries cutting his last two season short, and the fact he turns 30 before the start of the season, there is some question if he’ll get the money he desires. Does he deserve it? Yes. Will he get it? No one is sure. With “almost as talented” and cheaper options available to teams, a team will really have to want him specifically.
Mathieu, just 26 years old, decided to take a chance last season. He was drafted by the Cardinals, but when he decided to not take the pay cut they asked him to last year, he ended up in Houston on a one year deal. After having a great season, 89 tackles, 2 interceptions, and 3 sacks, most expect him to be re-signed by Houston to a longer deal.
Like Thomas, Collins ended the year early with a shoulder injury that required surgery. There have been some rumors that the NY Giants may try to franchise tag him, but there could be some salary cap issues that prevent that. Collins is just 25 years old and has already had multiple 100 tackle seasons. He has also been to the Pro Bowl 3 out of 4 years. He is looking for a strong contract, which is why he may have to move on from the Giants if they decide not to tag him.
Joyner is relatively new to the safety position. Drafted as a nickelback, the LA Rams moved him to safety this last season and have a very solid year. The Rams tagged Joyner last year yet still don’t have a deal in place with him. Joyner’s versatility could make him attractive to a few teams.
Tre Boston, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Adrian Amos, and Ron Parker are a few others that hit the market this year. Then, of course, you have to add in the draft and what teams may see coming out there. All in all, it is a great year if your team is in need of a safety. But if you’re a player, the field may be a bit crowded and the contracts offered may reflect that.
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