In somewhat of a surprising sequence on Tuesday — some Ravens staffers were surprised by this move, per NFL.com’s Peter Schrager (on Twitter) — Eric Weddle is now a free agent. Although the 34-year-old safety said in January he would retire if he was not part of the 2019 Ravens, he backtracked on that. His stance remains to continue his career, according to Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (on Twitter). On the heels of three Pro Bowl slates in Baltimore, Weddle stands to generate interest as a short-term fix. It will, however, be interesting to see how teams proceed at this position this year — after oddly brushing it aside in 2018. There are far more safeties available this year, giving this the feel of another buyers’ market.
Here is the latest from the safety marketplace:
- One player whose market may be in better position than it was last year, Tyrann Mathieu will have options. The Texans are trying to re-sign the seventh-year safety, and this process has now produced a preliminary offer, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle tweets. Mathieu is believed to still want to remain in Houston, Wilson writes, and the parties have been linked to a reunion for months. But with less than a week until the legal tampering period, the 26-year-old defender is a threat to depart.
- The Ravens already have several veteran contracts in their secondary, helping explain their reasoning to cut Weddle, but Jason La Canfora tweets they may be interested in Mathieu. Tony Jefferson‘s former back-line mate in Arizona, Mathieu would fit Baltimore’s desire for another playmaker at this position, JLC adds.
- The Giants‘ decision to let Landon Collins hit free agency shocked much of the football-following world, and Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com reports there will be an extensive market awaiting the three-time Pro Bowler and 2016 All-Pro. The Chiefs, Colts and Redskins profile as potential suitors, per Raanan. This move also may affect future Giants negotiations, reminding of how Dave Gettleman‘s tactics as Carolina’s GM rubbed some Panthers the wrong way, with Raanan adding the team made no serious attempt to discuss a long-term deal with its high-profile safety.
- New York received multiple offers for Collins prior to last year’s deadline, most notably a third-rounder from the Buccaneers, but Ralph Vacchiano of SNY notes the Giants were holding out for a second-rounder and possibly another late-round pick as well. Now, they will lose the safety for a compensatory pick — possibly a 2020 third-rounder, but that depends on what the Giants do in free agency.
- Collins hitting the market should prompt the Colts to pursue him, with Joel Erickson of the Indianapolis Star writing the team — which uses a system that values safeties more than most teams — needs a strong safety to pair with Malik Hooker. The Colts engaged in discussions with Clayton Geathers‘ reps at the Combine, but it’s not clear where the sides stand in talks on a Geathers return to Indianapolis. The Colts have already re-signed Mark Glowinski and Margus Hunt, but both players were initially Chris Ballard-era additions. Geathers was a Ryan Grigson second-round pick. The Colts still hold more than $100MM in cap space, putting them in strong position to land Collins if they choose.
- The 49ers remain in the market for a starting-caliber safety, per Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area (on Twitter). With former Seahawks assistant Robert Saleh running their defense, Earl Thomas is a natural fit. But Maiocco notes the team may not be willing to meet a massive asking price. There are, however, plenty of available candidates beyond Thomas to fill this role.