The free agency market at the safety position was so depressed last season that there were starting players who were still unable to find teams even entering the 2018 regular season. Players like Mike Mitchell and Eric Reid only signed contracts in late September to early October. And it’s not as though it was an extremely week market, though Tyrann Mathieu did get his one-year deal after he was released.
This year’s free agency class at the safety position, however, may be too robust to pass up, and it will be headlined by some All-Pro figures such as Earl Thomas and Landon Collins, with Eric Weddle at age 34 just being dumped into the mix after the Baltimore Ravens announced that they would be releasing him.
Joining Thomas, Collins, Weddle, and Mathieu are Lamarcus Joyner, Glover Quin, Marcus Gilchrist, Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix, Tre Boston, Kenny Vaccaro, George Iloka, among others. It’s probably fair to say that this is one of the strongest free agency classes at the safety position that we have seen in recent years.
And it would be very hard to keep that market repressed, as Mitchell and Reid contended last season. Both of them spoke during the course of the offseason about teams offering them low-ball contracts, and having heard similar things from the other safeties who remained free agents far beyond the point that was expected.
Many of these are names that could be signed on March 13, at the first possible opportunity. And frankly, there may actually be too many for them all to receive above-market or even market-level offers.
Even though the Pittsburgh Steelers ostensibly have their two starters at the position in Sean Davis and 2018 first-round pick Terrell Edmunds, it might be very tempting to dip their toes into this market to see if they can come out with a quality bargain on a legitimate contributor.
And there is a pretty easy way to do that, as they can save a good chunk of cap space by releasing Morgan Burnett, who frankly wants to be released. Oft-injured and on the wrong side of 30, with some bad tape last season when he did play, it should be an easy decision to let him go and get back into the market.
The Steelers have the desire to play a lot of three-safety defensive looks, which is what they intended to have with Davis, Burnett, and Edmunds. Can second-year Marcus Allen or veteran Jordan Dangerfield do what they need done in this capacity?
While they obviously have big needs at inside linebacker and cornerback, if they can essentially turn Burnett’s $5 million base salary owed into another safety who can either start or play in the dime, it really sounds like something worth exploring closely.