The final chapter of the 2016 Free Agent 12 part series is the safety position.
The Vikings need a strong safety with the impending free agencies of Robert Blanton and Andrew Sendejo. The Vikings have a stud free safety in Harrison Smith that they need to lock up to a long term extension.
The Lions are in a similar situation with the free agent status of James Ihedigbo and Isa Abdul Quddus. Glover Quin is a good free safety and Don Carey is a solid back-up.
The Packers are set at starting safety with Morgan Burnett and Ha Ha Clinton Dix but could use some depth due to the injury of Sean Richardson. Micah Hyde is a solid back-up.
The Bears backups in Ryan Mundy and Chris Prosinski are both free agents. Strong safety Antrelle Rolle is still under contract after an average 2015 season. Adrian Amos did well at free safety as a rookie for the Bears. The Bears could use depth and could upgrade over Rolle at strong safety.
Starting Free Safeties
Eric Weddle is 31 and appears to be moving on from the Chargers. Weddle had a strong 2015 season with a +7.2 grade with a positive 7.5 coverage mark. Weddle struggled in the run game for the first time in his career with a -3.1 grade. Weddle is a good free safety that has been a staple for the Chargers. Weddle wants to be paid and play for a contender.
Reggie Nelson has been a good player for the Bengals after struggling with the Jaguars earlier in his career. Nelson earned a +7.1 grade with good coverage and solid run defense. Nelson is 32 years old but may have a few years left as a former 1st round pick from the 2007 draft.
Eric Berry survived cancer and was a very good player again for the Chiefs defense. Berry is only 27 years old and teams will get a good player despite the cancer risk. Berry had a +12.3 grade with strong coverage and good run defense. Berry was a high first round pick and the Chiefs may try to lock him up long term. If he hits the open market, there should be a nice bidding war.
Walter Thurmond is a former CB for the Seahawks that found a home at free safety with the Eagles. Thurmond earned a +6.2 grade with solid coverage and good run defense. Thurmond was strong on the blitz too.
Rodney McLeod had a nice season with the Rams. McLeod notched a +4.9 coverage grade and a +3.1 run defense grade. McLeod was the 10th ranked safety in the league and will get a starting job for some team in free agency.
Rashad Johnson was a solid safety for the Cardinals. Johnson is 30 years old and was a solid player with a +.7 grade in 864 snaps. Johnson struggled with a pass rush and run defense but was good in coverage.
Hussain Abdullah played 443 snaps for the Chiefs and earned a +6.9 grade. Abdullah can cover and play the run but is 30 years old.
Starting Strong Safeties
George Illoka is a young 25 year old starting strong safety from the Bengals. Illoka had a +2.7 grade with a +4.5 coverage and +1.1 run defense. Illoka could earn a nice deal given his strong 2015 season and age.
Isa Abdul Quddus earned the starting job in Detroit in the second half of the season. Quddus played very well with a +6.0 grade with +.9 coverage and +5.1 run defense. Quddus has earned a starting strong safety contract and is good on special teams too.
William Moore was cut by the Falcons. Moore is 30 years old and oft injured but could be a decent strong safety if he can stay healthy. Moore struggled with a -3.4 grade in 2015, however.
Robert Blanton only played 236 snaps for the Vikings and struggled in coverage. He has starting experience but may be signed as a back-up only.
David Bruton was good player for the Broncos prior to his injury. Bruton notched a +2.3 grade in 497 snaps with the Broncos. Bruton is 28 years old and could earn a 3-4 year starting deal.
Dwight Lowery, Roman Harper (-3.1), Tyvon Branch, Ryan Mundy, Tashaun Gibson could be a low-end starter or a really good back-up.
James Ihedigbo (-2.2) is 33 and became a liability again in coverage in 2015 (-3.5) but is strong in run defense (+3.0). The Lions will not re-sign Ihedigbo and Ihedigbo lost his starting job to Abdul Quddus at midseason of 2015 due to coverage issues. Ihedigbo is a solid blitzer and has special teams experience.
Louis Delmas hurt his ACL again with Miami and the former Lion has been bitten by the injury bug too many times. Delmas is 28 and worth a minimum contract still as a back-up due to several knee issues.
Rafael Bush is a solid back-up from the Saints. Chris Conte is available if you want Randall Cobb to beat you deep in a big game.
The safety free agent class has some good starters and experienced depth. Other than Eric Berry, no team should break the bank for any safeties. Weddle, Illoka, Nelson, McLeod and Thurmond could help a team with a starting safety hole.