On Tuesday I wrote a blog about Landon Collins becoming a free agent and how that was a good thing for the Green Bay Packers. Well the safety market in general is good for the Packers. You may ask why am I focusing on safety when an edge rusher and guard are probably more immediate needs. This years draft is ridiculously thin on safeties that can come in and start right away, there may not be one even picked in the first round. Secondly, there are edge rushers galore in this years draft, and many solid OL prospects the Packers could take in the first round, remember they have two picks in the first round and three in the top 44. I don’t envision them taking a safety in the top 44, although I do believe they will take one in the third round or later, regardless if they sign one safety in free agency or three of them. Finally as I said at the start, this safety market is absolutely loaded with guys that can come in and be an upgrade for the Packers immediately.
The Packers currently have Tramon William (whose a CB converted to Safety), Josh Jones, Natrell Jamerson, Raven Greene, Tray Matthews, and Jason Thompson under contract at the safety position. My guess is that you’ve probably heard of two, maybe three of those guys and you’d be correct. The other guy they could resign who played decent at the end of the year is Ibraheim Campbell. The other option here is to move second year CB Josh Jackson to S. If the Packers resigned Brashaud Breeland at CB then they’d also have Jaire Alexander, Kevin King, Tramon Williams, Tony Brown, and Will Redmond. It’s an option to move Jackson because he seemed slow in rookie year, they have the CB depth, and it was discussed pre-draft that he could be a guy moved to safety eventually. Either way, the Packers really need a safety and they will sign on in free agency.
I’ve already discusses Landon Collins, so we’ll skip him for now but he will probably get the biggest pay day out of all these guys because of how good he has played in the past, and his youth. I also say this, the Packers will have to compete with a lot of teams for these guys, and as one guys gets signed the teams are just going to keep moving down the line until all these guys are gone. So here are the teams the Packers will be up against: San Francisco 49ers, Kansas City Chiefs, Atlanta Falcons, Seattle Seahawks, Oakland Raiders, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Baltimore Ravens, Indianapolis Colts, Detroit Lions, and New York Giants. I would say those teams are the most likely to spend big on a safety. Obviously, other teams will be involved but maybe not for the expensive guys.
The most well known safety available on the market and probably the best. Thomas was the heart of those great Seahawks defense for so long, he’s great in space, he’s a great tackler, and the ultimate leader on defense. Currently, whose the Packers leader on defense? Mike Daniels? Blake Martinez? Thomas would come in and immediately be the leader on that side of the ball. The con with Thomas revolves around his age and injury history. Thomas will be 30 in May and the three of the past four years as had serious injuries including a broken leg last year. Reports are saying he’ll look to make around $13 million a year, which might be a little steep for the Packers but at his age, he’s in win now mode and other than the Chiefs, the Packers probably have the best chance at making a Super Bowl run. The key here, Mike Pettine liked to play a lot of 1 high safety last year. Thomas fits that mold of a guy whose very rangy and can come up and make plays.
The Honey Badger has been a hot name since coming out of college at LSU. He played well for the Arizona Cardinals and the Houston Texans. I am sure the Texans would love to keep him but they may not be able to match what other teams are going to offer. Mathieu had an All-Pro year in 2015 but since then injuries including a torn ACL, and a shoulder injury led him to being cut by the Cardinals and pick up by Houston last year on a one year deal. Last year, Packers twitter wanted Mathieu very badly on a one year deal like he got from Houston. Mathieu played well last year with 89 tackles, three sacks, and two INTS. Mathieu isn’t exactly the best free safety type that Pettine would want to utilize in Cover 1 defense, but his talent is undeniable. I would love to see Mathieu in Green and Gold but I think that’s highly unlikely.
Amos is very intriguing for the Packers. He’s only 25 years old and has totaled 274 tacklers, 3 INTs, and 19 PD in four years for the Chicago Bears. I would think that Ryan Pace, GM of the Bears, is going to offer Amos a contract, but will it be enough to keep Amos in Chicago? The Packers a few years ago bid up on Kyle Fuller (CB) for the Bears and made them pay more for a quality player. The Packers could do this again with Amos. If they get him, fantastic, if not they made the Bears pay more and thus restricting their cap room.
Weddle is a phenomenal player and has been for a long time for the Chargers and Ravens. At 34 though, he’s market will be a little smaller than the rest of the guys – it’ll probably be similar to what Glove Quinn will be looking at. What Weddle does great even now at his age is everything pre-snap. He has a very high football IQ and always seemed to help get the Ravens in the right spot defensively. Weddle is also the type of safety who can play center field or come up in the box. Weddle would look good in Green Bay.
Joyner is 28 and has been a Ram for life since he entered the league in 2014. Since then he has started 42 games with 4 interceptions, 25 PD, 305 tackles, 5 sacks, and 12 tackles for loss. Joyner is your typical free safety that likes to roam and then come up and make plays. Joyner was tagged last year by the Rams and made $11.3 million and it looks like the Rams didn’t see enough to sign him long term. He is a smaller guy at only 5-8 and 190 pounds. If you read some Rams reports the reasoning for his departure is probably mainly to his poor tackling skills and coverage. Which, you want your safety to be good at. He’ll get a pay day but I don’t think he’ll get around $11 million.
Our second in division guy on the list is Glover Quinn from the Detroit Lions who played his last six season in Detroit and totaled 24 INTS, 37 PD, 7 forced fumbles, 3 sacks, 424 tackles, and 11 tackles for loss. Quinn is a quality safety but he is also the oldest at 33. More than anything, I think the Lions just wanted to get younger at the safety position and I’d expect them to be in the Landon Collins mix. The good thing about Quinn: he’s an iron man, he’s racked up 148 consecutive starts since 2009. Even with his age, Quinn will be off the market quickly.
Stewart was just released on March 6th by the Denver Broncos. Stewart will turn 31 in August and was part of those “No Fly Zone” defense in Denver. He’s been with the Broncos the past four years at strong safety were he totaled 250 tackles, 9 INTS, and 24 PD. Because of his age Stewart will come relatively cheap, and the good thing about him is he has little to no injury history. Stewart is a guy who loves to come up and turn on the hit stick.
Boston was a free agent last year in a very weak market for safeties and ended up signing a one year deal with the Arizona Cardinals. He totaled 79 tacklers and 3 INTS in 14 games for the Cardinals. He most likely played himself into a nice multi-year deal. So will the Cardinals resign him? Again, they’ll probably give him a low ball offer but the Cardinals have so many holes on their team, especially OL, that I think Boston will be let go. The thing I love about Boston, he loves to hit people.
Another in division guy the Packers could pluck away is Iloka. He’s 28 and was very good for the Bengals before he was let go and signed with the Vikings last year. He has a great relationship with Mike Zimmer who was the DC for the Bengals before he left for the Vikings. You would think the relationship would keep Iloka in Minnesota but he played mostly a backup role in Vikings and he is starting caliber safety in this league. Last her for the vikings he totaled 16 tackles and one force fumble. In his career he has started 79 games with 9 INTS, 32 PD, 362 tackles, and 9 tackles for loss. He’s a very solid player that would come relatively cheap.
Other names to keep track of: Kenny Vaccaro (Titans), Jimmie Ward (49ers), Adrian Phillips (Chargers), Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (Redskins).
2019 Draft Safeties: Johnathan Abram (Miss. St – 1st or 2nd Round), Juan Thronhill (Virginia – 2nd or 3rd RD), Nasir Adderley (Delaware – 2nd or 3rd RD), Taylor Rapp (Washington – 2nd or 3rd RD), Deionte Thompson (Alabama – 2nd – 4th RD), Amani Hooker (Iowa – 2nd or 4th RD)