Every day until free agency hits, we will be taking a quick look ahead of NFL free agency, position-by-position, examining the depth and quality of the group, and where they might wind up (near impossible to predict the majority of), and well as speculating on the Dynasty-Fantasy/IDP ramifications…
2018 Safety Free Agent analysis...
It’s an odd-looking market for free agent safeties. I say odd-looking because there’s like 2-3-4 names out there now that if we could go back in time about two years – they’d be considered top safeties in the league. Many available safeties in 2018 free agency were starters for their team in 2016-2017…but injury stole their thunder. Because Safety is not seen as a hypercritical position in the NFL…as far as wasting time with the ‘good’ or ‘OK’, many 2016 and 2017 starters are now on the 2018 scrap heap.
The market appears to have two coveted insta-starters…
49ers SS Eric Reid is seen as the best safety available in free agency…but for all his positives he has the cloud of ‘national anthem protestor’ hanging over him and that will cut down the market on him some. No matter what, he’ll get a big deal somewhere and be expected to start right away. He’s like a SAF/LB hybrid if needed.
I like Packers safety Morgan Burnett more than Reid, but I also acknowledge that Burnett has been banged up a lot lately. However, he’s only 29 years old. He’s a good safety, but the question is -- can he stay healthy enough for the price it will take to acquire him?
After the two expected insta-starter safeties there is a buzz for Tre Boston and Kenny Vaccaro. Boston is really starting to gain respect as a traditional deep safety not a SAF/LB type. Vaccaro was beloved for a few years and then had terrible PFF grades in 2017 and that has sunk some of his momentum.
If you want to get a cheap rental safety…there are names like Tyvon Branch, Ron Parker, Marcus Gilchrist and maybe T.J. Ward bounces back as well.
This is a deeper safety free agent class…much deeper than at DT, DE, EDGE or LB group. You can patch things at safety in free agency and college is spitting out nice safety prospects as well. There should be hesitancy to offer them big deals, but some NFL teams have so much money to spend they don’t know what to do with it…but they have to do something.
The player likely to get the most money/biggest contract: Saints SAF Kenny Vaccaro
Vaccaro is highly respected/coveted by some and just 27 years old. 26-year-old Eric Reid may get a bigger deal, but Vaccaro is going to be up there.
The most overrated/expensive player: Chargers SAF Tre Boston
He’s a good player but I’m not a huge fan of paying safeties who sit back in centerfield. There are so many more athletically gifted, multi-dimensional talents at safety coming through the draft or that could be CB converts to free safety. Why spend big on this in free agency?
The most underrated/value player: Seahawks SAF Bradley McDougald
I’m a fan of Bradley McDougald. I think he’s tough as nails and has enough athleticism to cover and pursue ballcarriers. He doesn’t seem to get much play in the football media, so he can come cheap. He had some great blocks of time with the Bucs 2015-2016 before the messy move to Seattle year last year. An IDP sleeper once again this offseason.
The deep sleeper out of nowhere: or Rams SAF Cody Davis
Cody Davis intrigues me on paper – 6’2”/200…4.41 40-time, 6.78 three-cone, 41.5” vertical. He’s made some sweet plays in various preseasons and had a flash or two in the regular season but never gets on the field enough to make a difference/get attention. He COULD be a Daniel Sorensen-like sleeper…and it took years before Sorensen got a real chance from the Chiefs, a chance he should have had years prior. Sorensen became a star. I wonder if Davis has some of that upside? Davis isn’t as tough as Sorensen but as athletic.
An IDP deep, deep sleeper.
Landing spot projections on the bigger/more interesting names…
Eric Reid – Signs with the Browns
Morgan Burnett – Signs with the Lions
Kenny Vaccaro – Signs with the 49ers
Tre Boston – Re-signs with the Chargers
Bradley McDougald – Signs with the Packers
Cody Davis – Signs with the Patriots
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