Will the safety dominoes finally start to fall with Eric Reid?
By Matt Conner
The safety market has been slow to move to this point for reasons unknown, but perhaps the Chiefs and other teams might start to make some moves.
Eric Reid might be the first domino to fall. It’s about time.
It’s now been several weeks since the free agent period opened with the predictable frenzy, when players were signing left and right and the transaction wire buzzed incessantly. What was hardly noticed then, just due to the sheer amount of news, was that the safety market wasn’t budging at all.
As the dust settled and names like Eric Reid, Kenny Vaccaro, Tre Boston, Nate Allen, Mike Mitchell, Tyvon Branch and so on remained unsigned. Only a couple safeties were involved in any moves at all, and those were one-off moves connected to other circumstances. First, LaMarcus Joyner was officially tagged instead of Sammy Watkins by the L.A. Rams, which took him off the market. Second, Tyrann Mathieu hit the market unexpectedly after being released by the Cardinals. Visits ensued and he landed a one-year deal worth $7 million with Houston.
Other than that, it’s been all quiet on the safety front. Until now.
Rumors have persisted that teams are waiting for the draft to see how the safety market pans out. After all, if a team can grab a prospect it likes enough in the draft, then why pay a higher cost on the market? Makes sense, but not for the number of safety needy teams. It also assumes these prospects will pan out when several sure things are ready to go today.
Take the Chiefs for example. They released Ron Parker, which leaves them without a starting free safety. Eric Berry is coming back from his third season lost to injury, and he’s the starting strong safety. Behind them are both Dan Sorensen and Eric Murray, both of whom are coming off of disappointing years. They were tasked with much more than expected, given injuries, and the results weren’t great.
Bob Sutton’s defense depends on excellent safety play and depth, so heading into 2018 with Berry (off of another injury), Murray and Sorensen is not exactly a heartening depth chart. Even with a rookie addition, it’s dependent on too many things to go right—for Berry to dominate as before, for the rookie to fit right in and play well, for Sorensen to live up to his extension in Year Two and Murray to develop as hoped.
Instead the right combination feels like a rookie and a free agent. DeShon Elliot and Tre Boston, just to throw out some names. Eric Reid and Armani Watts. You get the picture.
As Reid takes his first visit to Cincinnati, here’s hoping, for his sake, that there’s plenty more interest in not only him but the rest of the safety class that deserves much more attention than they are getting. Here’s also hoping the Chiefs are among the teams coming to the rescue.