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Free Agent Safeties (Pre-Franchise Tags)

After a majority voted to cut Atari Bigby, it's time to decide which free agent Safety should be the one to fill his shoes in the San Diego Chargers' defense.

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John David Mercer-USA TODAY Spor

After yesterday's vote, where 60% of you decided to cut Atari Bigby and use the $1.5 million left over on another Safety, I decided to look through and see who is available. A few things to consider.

  1. As mentioned previously during these free agent posts, we're building this list before teams have had a chance to franchise any of their players and most players without a contract haven't yet begun negotiations with their current team. There's a good chance that half of these guys never hit free agency.
  2. Eric Weddle is capable of playing either Free Safety or Strong Safety. He's great at coverage but also might be the best blitzer on the team. That means Tom Telesco won't be limited in which Safeties he can consider for the 2013 San Diego Chargers defense.
  3. The Colts, who have mostly played a Cover 2 defense over the past decade, believed it was more important to have two quality Safeties rather than one that was good at coverage (FS) and one that was good in the box (SS). You could argue that this helped this pass coverage as much as it hurt their run defense, but it should be considered because Telesco was there during that decade.

With that out of the way, let's go shopping.

  • Quentin Jammer, San Diego Chargers - Since this is going to get brought up, I figured I'd put him here first. If the Chargers were to cut Bigby, they could probably sign Jammer and save money on the position. However, they would also have a starting Safety that has never played Safety in the NFL. I'm against doing things like that.
  • Dashon Goldson, San Francisco 49ers - Goldson is definitely one of the better Safeties in the league right now. He's also 28 years old and was franchised by the Niners this season. He'll probably get the biggest contract of any free agent Safeties this season, which would make him higher paid than Eric Weddle (the #1 Safety in 2012 according to Pro Football Focus).
  • Jairus Byrd, Buffalo Bills - !!!!! Jairus is not only the son of Gill Byrd, who played his entire 9-year career with the San Diego Chargers, but he's also one of the best Safeties in the league at creating turnovers. While Weddle was PFF's #1 Safety in 2012, Byrd was the guy right behind him. There's probably a good chance that he gets franchised by the Bills, but Chargers fans would welcome him with open arms in San Diego (even with a big contract).
  • Ronde Barber, Tampa Bay Buccaneers - I've always been a very, very big fan of Ronde Barber. He was a top-flight Cornerback for most of his career and has slid into the role of top-flight Safety without a single hiccup. I doubt he wants to leave Tampa Bay, but we can dream....can't we?
  • Kenny Phillips, New York Giants - The Giants have already said that they do not intend to bring back Phillips, who struggles with consistency and health despite above-average talent. Word has it that he's looking for a long-term, big money contract.
  • Ed Reed, Baltimore Ravens - Just kidding. Ed's not going anywhere.
  • LaRon Landry, New York Jets - Ahem. No, thank you. (He was also terrible with the Jets this season, but that almost doesn't matter.)
  • Patrick Chung, New England Patriots - As I've stated previously, good players tend to sign with the Patriots for less money. The ones that leave never really amount to much. I'm not sure I'd want Chung for that reason along, but I do think Chung is a solid Safety.
  • Louis Delman, Detroit Lions - Another Kenny Phillips, although I like him a lot more as a player and he'll probably be more reasonable with his contract. That being said, he has a real hard time staying healthy these days (he's missed 13 games in the last two seasons).
  • Corey Lynch, San Diego Chargers - The more I saw of Lynch on the field, the less I cringed. I wouldn't be excited, nor would I mind, if he were the Chargers' starting Safety to kick off the year. Reminds me of Steve Gregory.
  • Abram Elam, Kansas City Chiefs - Him and Chris Crocker are in the same boat. Journeymen that weren't bad, or great, last season. It's the Marlon McCree experiment all over. Which isn't to say that it didn't work, but it's not guaranteed to work. Those guys are on the wrong side of 30.

There's plenty of other free agent Safeties out there. Here's a great place to start looking. If you're ready for Atari Bigby to be sent packing, which of these guys would you most want to replace him in John Pagano's defense?