All offseason the chatter has been on and off, mostly on, about whether or not the Seattle Seahawks would be trading Earl Thomas, and I’m here to tell you they won’t for one very simple reason: the market for safeties is ice cold right now. To help me explain this, I’m going to refer to the NFL.com list of the 101 top free agents for the 2018 NFL league year free agency period.
Obviously those top free agent lists are largely popularity contests, but this isn’t a scientific journal and I don’t need pinpoint accuracy to make this point. For those who don’t want to take the time to scroll through the linked list of the 101 best free agents and see who is signed and who is still available, I’m going to make things very simple and narrowing it down to the top 75, and from there I’m going to exclude the free agents that have signed. That means the following list is comprised of the seven free agents in the top 75 from the NFL.com list of top free agents that are still available.
Here they are:
So, in summary, of the seven players in the top 75 who remain free agents,
- All seven are defensive players,
- five of them are defensive backs,
- of the two who are not defensive backs, both are specialists in run defense and
- four are safeties.
Some might be quick to point out that the top player on the list, while a defensive back, is not a safety, but there are outside factors at play regarding why Bashaud Breeland is a free agent. Breeland actually signed a three-year, $24M contract that included $11M in guaranteed money with the Carolina Panthers, however that contract was voided when he failed his physical. Why did he fail his physical? Well, turns out 21 year old second round draft picks aren’t the only ones who can do something stupid while riding an ATV.
I'm told Bashaud Breeland's infected foot was the end result of an ATV accident.— Tony Pauline (@TonyPauline) March 16, 2018
So, of the top 75 free agents, those that are unsigned are a run stopping defensive tackle who is looking for his third team in three seasons, a cornerback who suffered a foot injury while riding an ATV in the Dominican Republic during the offseason, a soon to be 30 year old linebacker who has had a complete knee reconstruction and Achilles tear and four safeties.
Of the four safeties, they are 25 (Tre Boston), 26 (Eric Reid), 27 (Kenny Vaccaro) and 31 (Tyvon Branch) years of age, with various specialties and skills on the field. None of those safeties who are available are of the caliber of Seattle’s Thomas, but they don’t need to be. Why would a team surrender significant draft capital, much less the amount of draft capital it would likely take to acquire Thomas from Seattle, when there are multiple, younger players who could be acquired as free agents?
Obviously, as long as there are general managers willing to spend early draft picks on kickers and running backs there’s no guarantee that a general manager won’t spend significant capital to acquire Thomas, but they certainly shouldn’t.
Hopefully Thomas sees what is going on in the safety market and realizes that it’s unlikely that any team will be willing to give him the top of market contract he has stated he desires. We’d all love to see Thomas finish out his career with Seattle, and the fact that other teams aren’t willing to invest much in the safety position even with multiple quality young players available may help that come to be.