So much for that overcrowded safety market. The position group has had little difficulty finding teams willing to throw money at them so far, much in contrast to last season, in spite of the fact that there is quite a logjam in terms of top and mid-level talent available.
A year ago, there were a number of high-profile safeties who either had to wait substantially to sign a contract—a couple of them even into the start of the 2018 regular season—while other chose to settle for one-year contracts in order to ‘bet on themselves’ and try again in 2019. Those who did that worked out pretty well so far.
Specifically, Tyrann Mathieu opted to sign a one-year pact with the Houston Texans worth $7 million after he couldn’t find a long-term contract to his liking. Yesterday, he signed a contract with the Kansas City Chiefs—who just added another safety to the market by cutting Eric Berry—to a three-year, $42 million deal.
Former New Orleans Saints first-round pick Kenny Vaccaro signed a one-year contract with the Tennessee Titans last season worth just $1.1 million. Yesterday, he officially re-signed with the Titans on a four-year, $26 million contract.
Meanwhile, former New York Giants Pro Bowl safety Landon Collins reset the market for the position by signing a new contract in Washington that averages $14 million per season. The Giants passed on the opportunity to even franchise tag him, and apparently didn’t even offer him a contract. They instead turned to veteran Antoine Bethea and traded for Jabrill Peppers from the Cleveland Browns as part of the Odell Beckham, Jr. deal.
Yesterday, former Seattle Seahawks All-Pro Earl Thomas reached a new deal with the Baltimore Ravens, signing the biggest contract the team had ever given to a free agent, $55 million over four seasons, averaging $13.75 million, which would have been the biggest safety contract ever barring Collins’ deal, who is several years younger and not coming off a serious injury.
The Ravens, by the way, released Eric Weddle prior to the start of free agency, and he quickly turned around and signed a two-year contract with the Los Angeles Rams worth over $11.5 million. According to reports, roughly half of the league reached out to inquire about him.
Another big contract was handed out by the Oakland Raiders to former Rams safety Lamarcus Joyner, who played under the franchise tag in 2018. Joyner got a four-year, $42 million contract from Oakland. Adrian Amos got a four-year, $36 million contract from the Green Bay Packers, and Tashaun Gipson signed with the Texans for $22.5 million over three seasons.
This is not to mention a large number of other contracts, including the extension signed by Eric Reid—one of those safeties who had to wait until the 2018 regular season to sign—and there are still several notable names left on the market, such as Berry, Darian Stewart, and Glover Quin.