Vikings free-agent focus: Safeties

The Vikings don't have a huge need at safety and therefore aren't likely to spend big for an elite one. Still, there are some intriguing mid- and low-level ones that might eventually generate interest.

While the cornerback market heated up days in advance of the start of free agency, with several of the top ones re-signing with their current team before the official start of free, the same hasn't been true at safety, at least to that degree.

Where three of the top seven cornerbacks could be re-signed before the 3 p.m. Tuesday start to free agency, only two of the top-20 ranked safeties by Scout.com were signed. The Tennessee Titans signed Bernard Pollard to a two-year contract worth a reported $6.4 million with an $850,000 signing bonus and the Miami Dolphins signed Louis Delmas, who was released by Detroit.

Pollard was the fifth-ranked safety on Scout.com's free-agent listing and his salary compared to the nearly $10 million annually that the fifth-ranked cornerback, Sam Shields, received from Green Bay shows that the safety market might not be as lucrative as those free agents were hoping. It also might not be as deep as cornerback.

VIKINGS VIEW

The need at safety isn't as strong as some other positions for the Vikings, who will be searching for help at defensive tackle, linebacker and, to a lesser degree, offensive line.

The Vikings already have emerging star Harrison Smith in place and starter Jamarca Sanford next to him, although Sanford is entering the final year of his deal with the Vikings (Smith is signed through 2015).

They also have some depth after extending the contract of Andrew Sendejo before he ever reached the free-agent market, inking him through 2015, too.

INSIDE OPTIONS

The teams doesn't have any safeties scheduled to be free agents.

TOP OUTSIDE OPTIONS

You might notice that none of the safeties analyzed below are top eight in Scout.com's rankings. That's because we don't believe the Vikings will put a big emphasis on spending at the position because of what they have returning. The draft is likely a better avenue to develop a cheaper option for a season.

Michael Mitchell: After four seasons in Oakland and last year with the Carolina Panthers, Mitchell is a free agent. He reportedly has at least five teams interested in him (the Vikings not being named among those five). He started 14 games for the Panthers last year and had four interceptions. He will turn 27 before training camp.

Taylor Mays: He got big reviews coming out of college, but his range can be an issue. Still, he came to the Bengals in 2011, when Mike Zimmer was the defensive coordinator, and having someone that knows the coach's defensive system would help. Another bonus? He is only 26. The downside? He has only started four games in the last three years for the Bengals and was placed on injured reserve midway through the 2013 season with a shoulder injury.

James Ihedigbo: Mike Zimmer and Norv Turner should have plenty of knowledge on Ihedigbo since they each played against the Baltimore Ravens' free-agent-to-be. The definite downside is his age, 30, which would likely take him off the radar until later in the process.

THE FREE AGENTS

Jairus Byrd
T.J. Ward
Donte Whitner
Chris Clemons
Antoine Bethea
Malcolm Jenkins
Mike Mitchell
Stevie Brown
Nate Allen
Kendrick Lewis
James Ihedigbo
Rafael Bush
Husain Abdullah
Ryan Mundy
Darian Stewart
Taylor Mays
Charles Woodson
Major Wright
Yeremiah Bell
Ryan Clark
Ed Reed
Chris Crocker
Quintin Mikell
Brandon Meriweather
Mike Adams
Will Allen
Roman Harper
Quintin Demps
Usama Young
Kerry Rhodes
M.D. Jennings
Colt Anderson
Sergio Brown
Kurt Coleman
Reed Doughty
Eric Frampton
Matt Giordano
Jeron Johnson
Jim Leonhard
Chris Maragos
Danny McCray
Jeromy Miles
Craig Steltz
Darrell Stuckey
John Wendling


Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

Viking Update Top Stories