There’s one position in particular that is about to be plentiful with veteran talented players, when the NFL free agency frenzy begins. And for one state NFL team they may make a move in that direction fairly quickly.
First, a blur of established safety activity took place on Tuesday. That’s when, in succession: the NFC Champion Rams released former Bucs first-round pick of and their former leading tackler, Mark Barron. Later on Tuesday afternoon, the New York Giants decided not to exercise the Franchise Tag on safety Landon Collins, who’s their former number one pick, a three-time Pro Bowler and only 25 years old. That makes him an unrestricted free agent, too, coming up.
And then on Wednesday evening, came word that the Baltimore Ravens surprisingly released veteran star and locker room leader Eric Weddle, making him immediately available, too.
This adds to a position that already has Earl Thomas of Seattle and Tyrann Mathieu formerly of the Cardinals and Texans, as well as veterans HaHa Clinton-Dix, and Kenny Vaccaro who are also available at the same position.
So needless to say, teams will quickly make their moves on some or most of the names on that list to get them under contract, when free agency begins in less than 10 days.
One team that could be near the front of that line is the Buccaneers.
Tampa Bay is in desperate need of veteran presence at the safety position, as they’ve relied the last couple of years on young players like former second round pick Justin Evans and last year’s rookie middle-round pick Jordan Whitehead. Tampa Bay saw veteran Chris Conte injured and lost for the year at the beginning of the season. And, they had to even resort to playing significantly another veteran, Andrew Adams, whom they had gotten off of waiver-wire.
There’s an obvious connection with Mathieu, the Cardinals and the New Tampa Bay coaching staff that was Mathieu’s coaching staff in Arizona. Head coach Bruce Arians and defensive coordinator Todd Bowles drafted Matthew and the Buccaneers could be a likely destination for that veteran.
However, Collins is going to be very coveted, and maybe by the Bucs as well, because of his youth, success early in the NFL and his pedigree for having played on National Championship teams for Nick Saban at Alabama.
The Dolphins aren’t as likely to go after a high-priced veteran safety, because they already have Pro bowler Xavien Howard on their team and they’re trying to work out an extension with him. And, Miami drafted Minkah Fitzpatrick from the aforementioned Crimson Tide in the first round last year.
Plus, the Dolphins are more “salary cap stuck” with an apparent looming release of quarterback Ryan Tannehill taxing their 2019 cap and keeping them from being able to offer big bucks, at least early on, in free agency.
The same can probably be said of the Jacksonville Jaguars, who have veteran Tashaun Gipson do back at over $9 million a year. Plus, they have second-year player and 2018 mid-round pick Ronnie Harrison, from you guessed it- Alabama, and also safety Jarrod Wilson, too.
Just like the Dolphins, the Jaguars are likely going to be releasing their quarterback, Blake Bortles and that will be a significant hit on their 2019 salary cap in dead money. And, it will hamper them from being active for the likes of Mathieu, Collins, Thomas, Weddle or any other high-priced big named safety that’s on the market.
Then again, the glut of talented veteran players may keep the price tags down, especially as free agency wears on after the first few days and some of those names above may be more affordable.
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