Latest On Free Agent Safety Market

A select number of positions have seen their free agent values soar in recent years, including quarterback, receiver and defensive tackle. Others have dropped in terms of interest shown around the league and the willingness of teams to make lucrative long-term commitments, though.

Safety can be placed in the latter category with several veteran producers at the position yet to land a deal. That will likely continue up to the start of training camps, the point when unsigned veterans often join new teams. CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones reports this year’s group of free agent safeties are in line to primarily receive low-cost, incentive-laden contracts this summer.

While that update comes as little surprise given how the opening waves of free agency unfolded, it nevertheless underscores the financial landscape of the safety spot in most cases. Xavier McKinney landed $16.75MM in annual average value on his Packers deal, one of the few at the position which was signed in short order in March. McKinney secured $23MM guaranteed, a figure which at one point trailed only Derwin James (Chargers) and Minkah Fitzpatrick (Steelers) for locked in compensation.

More recently, Antoine Winfield Jr. became the league’s highest-paid defensive back on his Buccaneers extension (four years, $84.1MM). The pact took the place of his franchise tag and includes $45MM guaranteed in full. While the top of the safety market has thus seen movement amongst players entering their prime, the position has generally not seen its veteran members receive interest from teams for big-ticket extensions.

The likes of Justin Simmons, Jamal Adams, Eddie Jackson, Quandre Diggs, Jordan Poyer and Marcus Maye were all released in cost-shedding moves this offseason. The latter two have since signed with the Dolphins, but the others remain on the market. Simmons – whose 30 interceptions since his arrival in 2016 lead the NFL – has not been linked to a prospective suitor since signs pointed to a Broncos reunion being unlikely.

Like with all other veterans, the safeties still looking for a deal will likely settle for a one-year accord this summer in the hopes of rebuilding their value in 2024. Three quarters of the NFL’s teams currently have at least eight figures in cap space, so the top options could try to command something of a bidding war if multiple suitors emerge, but such a scenario would be unlikely at this point. In general, it will be interesting to see if this offseason represents an outlier at the safety spot or the continuation of a larger financial trend at the position.

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