NFL free agent breakdown: Safety

NFL free agency begins league-wide March 9 and the Redskins need reinforcements at several spots including safety.

We looked at some of the NFL’s top cornerback options hitting free agency on March 9. The Redskins could use additional depth at most spots, and the safety positions are no different.

 

Both Dashon Goldson and DeAngelo Hall--the Redskins’ primary safety tandem down the stretch last season—remain under contract. The duo was serviceable down the stretch, but the team may want to proceed with caution for a number of reasons. There's also a good chance at least one of them isn't back. That means the Redskins need backup plans.

 

Kyshoen Jarrett is certainly in the mix after an impressive rookie season. Restricted free agent Duke Ihenacho could potentially be as well, but he’s another risky proposition based on his injury history since signing with the team in 2014. Jeron Johnson helped more on special teams than at safety.

Expect Washington to seek additional help via the draft or free agency. If they go the latter route, these are some of their options:


Big Name

 

Eric Berry (2015 team: Kansas City Chiefs)

 

Landing Berry doesn’t fit GM Scot McCloughan’s plans to build through the draft and avoid spending on top-dollar free agents. Still, if the Chiefs don’t lock Berry down with a franchise tag or reach a multi-year agreement, it will be hard for any team to ignore him. Berry, the 2015 comeback player of the year, had an inspired season as the leader of the Chiefs defense after being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in Nov. 2014. The former fifth overall draft pick is also just entering his athletic prime at 27 years old.

 

Big Name, Lesser Price

 

Eric Weddle (2015 team: San Diego Chargers)

 

At 31 years old, Weddle’s age suggests he is past his prime, but he is still among the best at the position. If his value drops in free agency because teams are more interested in the younger options, of which there are several, Weddle would make for a great steal. He’s also one of the most reliable safeties available. In his nine years in the league, all with the Chargers, Weddle has never missed more than three games in a single season.

 

Bargain/Sleeper

 

Walter Thurmond (2015 Team: Philadelphia Eagles)

 

Like Hall, Thurmond, 28, made the transition from cornerback to safety in 2015. Listed at 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds, Thurmond is far from the biggest safety in the free agent class. At the same time, his experience at the corner spot translated to a solid season in coverage at the safety position. Furthermore, he played safety in college at Oregon, so his experience extends beyond just last season.

 

The risk is not all that high—he has a season’s worth of film for team scouts to break down—and the price shouldn’t be, either. There’s also reason to believe his best years are ahead as he grows more comfortable in the role.

 

Not Worth the Risk

 

Tashaun Gipson (2015 Team: Cleveland Browns)

 

Though his production waned in his fourth NFL season, Gipson, 25, has the highest upside of the group. He had two interceptions in 2015 and his coverage was lacking--Pro Football Focus saddled him with a bottom 10 coverage grade. On the other hand, no player intercepted more passes than Gipson’s 11 over the course of the 2013 and 2014 regular seasons.

 

Gipson’s age and upside will command a formidable contract. Though he very well may pan out for whomever he plays for in the coming seasons, Gipson is a risk that the Redskins can’t afford to take.

 

Dan Roth is a freelance sportswriter and Breaking Burgundy contributor. Follow Dan on Twitter @danrothdc.

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