NFL teams are waiting out the free agent safety market

CARSON, CA - DECEMBER 10: Safety Tre Boston
CARSON, CA - DECEMBER 10: Safety Tre Boston /

Ian Rapoport says that NFL teams appear to be working together to wait out the current class of free agent safeties in hopes the prices drop.

The first wave of free agency is over. The frenzy has come to an end. Now the rate of news concerning player visits and signings has slowed to a nice, steady drip as compared to the tsunami of information that flowed during the first few days of the NFL’s offseason.

During that first wave, the biggest names available came off the board. Kirk Cousins found a new team. So did Trumaine Johnson. The Kansas City Chiefs landed two prizes of their own in Sammy Watkins and Anthony Hitchens. At each position, the best available players all found quick new homes to call their own—that is, except for the league’s free agent safeties.

A quick look at current “best available free agent” lists yields a surprising amount of competent and even well above average safeties just sitting there on the open market, as if the NFL isn’t highly dependent on these players. Safeties have arguably never been more important and yet Eric Reid is just sitting there. So is T.J. Ward. Kenny Vaccaro is readily available, as is Tre Boston. And how did we forget Morgan Burnett? The names go on and on.

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How is this possible? It’s not as if teams are filled to the brim in the secondary. Here in Kansas City, the need is perhaps the biggest on the team at safety. Eric Berry is returning from another season-ending injury while the other starting slot has been vacated by the recently released Ron Parker. The back-ups won’t engender confidence for any fan knowing the job that Eric Murray and Dan Sorensen did last season trying to make up for Berry’s loss.

In other words, the biggest sure thing on defense isn’t even so sure these days and the rest could all use an upgrade. So why aren’t the Chiefs moving to work out a deal with someone, anyone, to help at safety? Ian Rapoport recently appeared on NFL Network to explain his perspective:

"None of the top safeties have really moved and it’s interesting because the league is using safeties more than ever I can remember. Sometimes what happens is a bunch of guys at the same position all set a price that’s pretty high, teams decide that’s too high and they say, “You know what? I’m just going to move on to other positions.” That’s what happened in free agency. We saw positions come off the board so fast—receiver was one, running backs came off the board quickly, obviously quarterbacks came off quickly, on and on. Nobody moved on the safeties. So it’s a week later and perhaps these guys prices are still too high or maybe the teams said, “You know what? We’re not in a hurry anymore because the first wave of free agency is over.”"

While the frenzy is over, it is important that, at some point, the dam bursts and teams figure out what they are working with or not. Yet that point might not come for several weeks. Eventually teams will want to know what needs to fill in the draft, but that doesn’t come until the end of April, another six weeks of waiting for players which can feel brutal in an offseason filled with expectations coming in.

Here’s hoping we see some movement soon, for the sake of the Chiefs’ secondary as well as those players who’ve earned the payday they’ve worked so hard to get.