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The safety market is shaping up nicely for the Chiefs

With all the attention on Landon Collins, it’s been easy to forget there are lots of safeties available in free agency

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v New York Giants Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Sometime in the last week, you — along with most other Kansas City Chiefs fans who have been paying attention — have seen a list like this one Spotrac tweeted on Wednesday.

Simply put, there are a lot of safeties who are (or will soon be) available in NFL free agency.

That list expanded — and contracted — on Friday as teams made a lot of roster moves in preparation for the NFL free agency period coming next week.

Baltimore Ravens safety Eric Weddle — familiar to Chiefs fans from his years with the Los Angeles Chargers — was on the Los Angeles Rams within hours of his release from the Ravens. Weddle, 34, reportedly received interest from no fewer than 11 NFL teams, decided to visit five of them, and was signed on his first trip. He agreed to a two-year contract worth $10.5M, plus $2M in incentives.

But as Weddle dropped from the list, Jacksonville Jaguars safety Tashaun Gipson took his place. Gipson — along with four other Jaguars — was released on Friday, in a move seen as creating salary cap space for the expected signing of Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles when free agency opens.

Former Jaguars safety Tashaun Gipson, who was released on Friday
Former Jaguars safety Tashaun Gipson, who was released on Friday
Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Weddle’s signing also added another wrinkle to the safety market: the Rams then released veteran safety Lemarcus Joyner, which changed Joyner’s status from a pending free agent (as he was on Spotrac’s list) to a current free agent. Before his release, teams would only have been able to (technically) negotiate with Joyner when the legal tampering period begins on Monday, and sign him no earlier than 3:00 pm (Arrowhead Time) this Wednesday. Now — like Weddle (and then Gipson) on Friday — teams are free to sign him.

And one more player went into the hopper of currently available free agent on Friday — longtime veteran Antoine Bethea, who was released by the Arizona Cardinals.

So it might make sense to do a little work here and figure out which safeties are available right now, which ones won’t be available until Wednesday and how they stack up against each other.

Short List: Free Agent Safeties

Player Team Status Age Exp GS/Yr (Rcnt) AV/Yr (Rcnt) Salary Market Player
Landon Collins NYG Pending 25 4 14.8 (14.3) 7.8 (8.7) $1.2M $8.6M Landon Collins
Darian Stewart DEN Current 31 9 10.1 (15.0) 4.8 (6.7) $4.5M Darian Stewart
Tashaun Gipson JAX Current 29 7 12.9 (16.0) 5.6 (6.3) $5.8M Tashaun Gipson
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix WAS Pending 26 5 16.0 (16.0) 6.2 (5.7) $6.0M $9.6M Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
Tyrann Mathieu HOU Pending 27 6 13.7 (14.0) 5.7 (5.7) $7.0M $8.7M Tyrann Mathieu
Earl Thomas SEA Pending 29 9 13.9 (9.7) 9.4 (5.7) $8.5M $10.5M Earl Thomas
Adrian Amos CHI Pending 26 4 14.0 (13.3) 5.3 (5.0) $1.9M $8.0M Adrian Amos
Johnathan Cyprien TEN Pending 29 5 14.0 (13.3) 5.2 (5.0) $4.5M Johnathan Cyprien
Kenny Vaccaro TEN Pending 28 6 13.3 (12.0) 5.0 (5.0) $900K Kenny Vaccaro
Glover Quin DET Pending 33 10 15.9 (16.0) 6.2 (5.0) $3.9M Glover Quin
Antoine Bethea ARI Current 35 14 13.1 (12.7) 5.7 (5.0) $3.0M Antoine Bethea
LaMarcus Joyner LAR Current 28 5 13.4 (11.7) 3.6 (4.7) $11.3M $10.6M LaMarcus Joyner
George Iloka MIN Pending 29 7 11.3 (11.7) 4.6 (4.7) $790K George Iloka
Player Team Status Age Exp GS/Yr (Rcnt) AV/Yr (Rcnt) Salary Market Player

We’re not doing anything complicated here — we’re simply showing each player’s free agent status, age (during the 2019 season) and NFL experience. Then there’s a column for the number of games they’ve started per year over their whole career, and then (in parentheses) they number per year in the last three years. This is to give you a sense of their ability (and availability) over their whole career, and also in recent years.

The next column does the same thing with Pro-Football-Reference’s Approximate Value (AV) figure for each player, which gives you a general sense of how they have played over their career and in the last three years. Finally, there are columns showing their base salary in 2018, and (when available) Spotrac’s estimate of the player’s market value in free agency.

The table is sorted by recent AV per year, but don’t let that carry you too far. AV isn’t intended to show that any one player is necessarily better than another; we’re just trying to get an overview of what the market looks like — something better than just a list of names.

Nor does this claim to be an exhaustive picture of the whole market. Other free agent safeties are (and will be) available; this is just a list of the dozen or so whose names are being thrown around right now.

Right away, we can see that it’s probably fair to consider Landon Collins to be at (or at least near) the top of the market. And while Spotrac lists Earl Thomas and Lamarcus Joyner at the most valuable, this data paints a somewhat different picture.

After the early mania about Collins among Chiefs fans — not to mention the reports that the Chiefs were targeting Collins — many fans have come down to Earth a little. The Chiefs have needs besides safety, and unless they can (somehow) get some cap relief, going after Collins might not make the most sense.

But what this shows us is there are quality options on the market. Which ones would make the most sense for the Chiefs are a little tough to figure, because Eric Berry’s status is not yet clear. If the Chiefs believe Berry can (and will) play in 2019, they might want a solid (but inexpensive) player as insurance; age won’t necessarily be important.

If, on the other hand, Berry will soon be off the roster — remember, if the team intends to cut Berry using the post-June 1 designation, they can’t do so until Wednesday afternoon, and would need to do it before the Friday, when another $7.25M becomes guaranteed — then the Chiefs might want to go after a younger player.

In any case, plenty of options are out there.

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