Can we all just take a moment to appreciate the talented Safeties available in free agency when the new league year starts next week? The biggest name is probably Earl Thomas, the former Seahawk who openly tried to recruit himself to the Dallas Cowboys in 2017. After breaking his leg with the Seahawks last year, Thomas will try to get his Hall of Fame career back on track in a new locale. Eric Weddle, the former Chargers and Ravens standout, was cut on Tuesday to free up some cap space so that the Ravens can possibly make a run at Tyrann Mathieu. The Giants decided against using the franchise tag on Landon Collins and will let him test the free agent waters where he’ll join LaMarcus Joyner, Adrian Amos, HaHa Clinton-Dix, Tre Boston, Johnathan Cyprien, and more in finding new deals.
Last year in free agency, the safety position moved incredibly slowly with talented players waiting until mid-season to earn a contract. The names at the top of the heap this year should almost certainly create more urgency, and it would not be a big surprise if Thomas, Mathieu, and Collins are off the board quickly to teams like the Cowboys, Chiefs, and Colts.
We all know that free agency can be fool’s gold. With 32 teams bringing their varied team building approaches, desperation, and pocket books, free agency inevitably brings a few high-priced mistakes. Deals are given out to role players to be starters based on projection, aging vets are given big deals based on name brand on the downside of their careers, and maybe worst of all, star-level deals are given to “system” players.
In this sense, the Bears are in really good position entering this year’s free agency. They simply don’t have the cap space to make an astronomically bad deal in the safety market and given the glut of talent on offer, they will likely be able to sit back and watch the prices drop as free agency extends closer to the draft. They also have Deon Bush as a stopgap who, while not an all-star, filled in for the injured Eddie Jackson and played at a serviceable level.
The leverage that NFL free agents have is that 32 teams are potentially vying for their services. The leverage that NFL GM’s have is the supply of a number of similarly talented players at the position and the NFL Draft just six weeks away. As the calendar gets closer and closer to the draft, free agents lose their leverage as teams shift toward filling their needs with a rookie.
In our new podcast, Bears Over Beers, EJ Snyder and I discussed the safety position at length, including some of the options on the roster, free agency, and the draft. If you haven’t yet listened to the podcast, I’ve included it here for your consideration.
I think there are two very real possibilities for the Bears with the safety position this off-season. The first is that the talent above Adrian Amos soaks up the big money in the market and forces the mid-tier players to cut their prices. Given the familiarity Amos has with the system and the success of the defense, he signs a deal with the Bears that both parties can be happy with but less than what Amos was probably hoping to get.
The second possibility is that the Bears go after a guy like Eric Weddle chasing a championship at the end of his career or a guy like Tre Boston who could come at an affordable rate while also drafting a player in the 3rd or 4th round to groom behind the veteran. Signing a player like Weddle, who was cut, wouldn’t count in the compensatory draft picks calculation. If Amos gets a sizable deal and the Bears sign only modest deals in Free Agency, they could (finally) net a free pick in the 2020 draft. As for this year’s crop of rookies, Darnell Savage, Marquise Blair, and Johnathan Abram are names to keep an eye on when the Bears turn in their draft card.
Ryan Pace has shown a willingness to throw multiple resources at a position of need in the past. Luckily, this year’s free agent and draft classes set up well to do just that at safety.
What do you think? Do you see Amos returning or a new veteran pairing up with Eddie Jackson? Are you confident in Deon Bush to take over the role? Do you have a favorite mid-round rookie on your radar?
Who will start at safety next to Eddie Jackson on opening day for the Bears in 2019?
This poll is closed
Big FA signing (Collins, Mathieu)
Stopgap Veteran (Weddle, Tre Boston)
Rookie (Savage, Blair, Abram)
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