Eric Berry leads our list of 2016 top free agent safeties. Our evaluation of this group includes overall talent plus the player’s potential impact over the next three to five years. That latter attribute naturally favors younger safeties. Salary also come into play. Unless a team is a player away from making the Super Bowl, we don’t favor getting into egregious price wars. Use that money instead to fill as many holes as possible.
SS George Iloka, Cincinnati Bengals
2016 Top Free Agent Safeties
Name, Position, Team, Years in League
Eric Berry, FS, Chiefs, 6
Eric Berry was the NFL’s 2015 Comeback Player of the Year. He is a versatile defensive back and easily a top 5 safety. His $5M salary is about to get even bigger. There’s no way the Chiefs let him go. Franchise Tagged by the Chiefs.
George Iloka, SS, Bengals, 4
Big presence at 6-4, 225lbs. Long reach with above average skills against the run and pass. Missed some time in 2015 due to injury while recording 1 interception and 5 PD. Base salary of $1.5M. The overall SS market is not very strong this year, and that works to his advantage. There’s Iloka and there’s everyone else. Resigned with Bengals.
Eric Weddle, FS, Charger, 9
Versatile, old style football player. Can and will play all over the field. Good coverage skills even at 31 years old. Fell out of favor with the Chargers as the season progressed. All ready earning $7.5M per year. Signed with Baltimore.
Dwight Lowery, FS, Colts, 8
Dependable player throughout his career but never considered elite. Can be a good bridge player for a team needing a stop gap at Safety as other positions are built up. Salary in 2015 was $870k. Will garner a salary below $2M so could turn out to be a high value pick up. Signed by San Diego.
FS Dwight Lowery, Colts
Bacarri Rambo, SS, Bills, 3
Formerly released by the Redskins but found new life with Buffalo. Young player with upside who has earned high marks from Rex Ryan. Ranks this high only because 2016 free agent strong safety class is relatively weak, thereby adding to his value. Salaried at $585k.
Reggie Nelson, FS, Bengals, 9
22 PD and 8 interceptions last season. Talk in Cincinnati is the Bengals may let either Nelson or Iloka walk. Nelson is the better player right now but Iloka is 7 years younger. Since Nelson has better production, Iloka may be the odd man out. Nelson’s 2015 salary was $4.1M.
Rashad Johnson, FS, Cardinals, 7
Smart, well rounded defender. Posted 5 interceptions and 12 PD for Arizona. 2015 salary was $1.4M.
David Bruton, SS, Broncos, 7
Physical player at 6-2, 217 pounds. Can play multiple schemes and positions. Former special teams player had 2 interceptions and 9 PD before a fractured fibula in December put him on IR. $1.25M salary. Signed with Washington.
SS David Bruton, Broncos
Tyvon Branch, SS, Chiefs, 8
Former Oakland Raider had some great games but never a great season. Hard hitting safety that plays with passion. Can be an upgrade on many teams. $870k salary. Moving on to Arizona.
Walter Thurmond, SS, Eagles, 6
Moved over from CB to Strong Safety last year and played well. In addition to 3 interceptions and 10 PD, posted 2 sacks and 2 forced fumbles. Good coverage skills. If his development continues, may turn out to be an excellent FA acquisition. 2015 salary was $1.3M.