Player: Sean Davis
Experience: 5 Years
Free Agent Status: Unrestricted
2020 Salary Cap Hit: $825,000
2020 Season Breakdown:
Sean Davis tried to get away from the Pittsburgh Steelers. It didn’t quite work out. After suffering a shoulder injury early in the 2019 season, they went out and traded for Minkah Fitzpatrick, who would go on to have an All-Pro season. Coupled with Terrell Edmunds, it cemented the reality that there was no place for him in the starting lineup.
So he signed with Washington, his ‘hometown’ team growing up, for a one-year, $5 million deal that gave him a shot at competing for a starting job. He didn’t win the job, so they cut him, and ate some dead money in the process, amounting to $2 million from a signing bonus paid.
Initially, the Steelers carried Curtis Riley as the third safety, but as soon as Davis became available, Riley was let go and Davis brought back. They immediately installed him as the number three safety as well, even though he had been away from the team throughout the entire offseason.
Of course, he was a long-time former starter with experience at both safety position and even the slot, so it’s not like he had much to relearn. Despite that, other safeties played in sub-packages, but he did start in the season finale when Edmunds was not available due to injury.
Outside of that, he performed his duties on special teams, playing 180 snaps, the most on special teams he has seen since his rookie season, and the highest percentage of total special teams snaps at 45 percent.
Free Agency Outlook:
This one is hard to gauge for me. While the Steelers have obviously moved past Davis as a starter, settling in on the pair of Edmunds and Fitzpatrick, they were quick to bring him back when he was made available, and they installed him as the number three safety in terms of who would step onto the field in the event of injury.
He did start during the season finale when Edmunds missed the game, registering six tackles and a pass defensed in that game, but he only had a very small handful of snaps defensively outside of that. He has long had a special teams role.
On the other hand, Jordan Dangerfield is a special teams captain, and they have finally found a role for Marcus Allen. Plus, Antoine Brooks is entering his second year. That’s already five safeties. But none of the other backups profile as a free safety at all.
So would the Steelers be interested in keeping Davis around for the minimum if he is available at that price? I would lean toward yes. He has already been in the system for five years, after all, and unless they draft a safety, he is the only backup that can play in single-high. Given how his 2020 went, I’m not sure he’s going to have much of a market.