Player: Sean Davis
Free Agent Status: Unrestricted
2019 Salary Cap Hit: $1,300,398
2019 Season Breakdown:
Well, there wasn’t much of a 2019 season to talk about, was there? Sean Davis was limited to action in just once game during the past season due to injuries, but he had been a full-time starter for the previous two and a half years of his career as he is set to hit unrestricted free agency.
Originally a second-round pick out of Maryland in 2016, Davis started his career actually as the Steelers’ starting nickel back. After suffering a labrum injury in the third game of the season, the team scaled his work back, and began working him in at his more natural position of safety mid-year. After rotating for two games with Robert Golden, he was given the job full-time at strong safety.
He spent all of 2017 at strong safety, registering a team-high three interceptions and also forcing a fumble, showing promise for the future. The Steelers moved him to free safety in 2018 after letting Mike Mitchell go. It would be fair to say that he has had some growing pains with each transition.
But he never got the chance to build on one move to the next. Davis dealt with a number of injuries during the 2019 offseason, including one that kept him out of the season opener.
He returned for the second week of the second, only to suffer another labrum injury in the second half while attempting to make a tackle. He would be placed on injured reserve and the Steelers went out and traded for Minkah Fitzpatrick, who would intercept five passes and recover two fumbles, scoring twice amid a first-team All-Pro season.
Free Agency Outlook:
With the other safety position locked down—for now—by Terrell Edmunds, it’s already a foregone conclusion that as long as there is some semblance of a market for Davis, who has 41 starts under his belt with 190 tackles, five interceptions, 20 passes defensed, and a forced fumble, plus 2.5 sacks, he is going to sign somewhere else.
Re-signing with the Steelers would more or less be a commitment to being a backup, and while Davis has his numerous detractors within the fan base, I’m confident in saying that some team is going to think he’s better than what they have at safety.
Add in the fact that he is versatile enough to play in the slot, and at either safety position, and that boosts his value. Additionally, losing his job by way of injury is better optically. The Steelers have admitted that his injury pushed them to go out and get Fitzpatrick.
Davis would be great to have as a backup, but it’s unlikely they’re going to be able to sign him for a backup-level salary. Depending on what they do themselves in free agency, he should net them at least a late-round compensatory draft pick in 2021.