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Steelers 2021 Free Agent Market Watch: Safeties that the Steelers maybe can’t afford

BTSC takes a look at the top free agents at each position, whether or not they are in the Steelers price range. Here is the talent at safety.

Atlanta Falcons v Carolina Panthers Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Disclaimer: The author realizes that the 2021 Steelers are probably going to be burning in Salary Cap Hell and can’t pony up much money for free agents. However, you never know what they have planned and it’s the author’s responsibility to highlight the free agent options.

The Steelers have very good talent at the safety position in Minkah Fitzpatrick and Terrell Edmunds. Both need to have their fifth-year options addressed soon. As for 2021, they will return and depth is what the team lacks the most here. Should the Steelers decide that they need to address the position in free agency, this is who is looking for a deal at the position.


Most Notable Free Agents - Safety

Marcus Maye - New York Jets

Age 28, 6’0”/207 lbs.

Stats: Games Played - 16, Speed - 4.46

No. 5 PFF Position Ranking

Interceptions: 2, Pass Defenses: 11, Times Targeted: 46, Completions Against: 27, Completion %: 58.7, Touchdowns: 0, Sacks: 52, Combined Tackles: 88, Solo Tackles: 52, Tackles For Loss: 4, Quarterback Hits: 2

Overall Grade 82.9 (Elite), Pass Rush 64.7 (Average), Run Defense 73.0 (Above Average), Coverage 85.8 (Elite)

One of the reasons the Jets were able to trade Jamal Adams to Seattle, besides the king’s ransom, was the play of Marcus Maye. Maye stepped in and played even more of a solid manner in 2020. Solid against the run and fantastic in coverage, Maye has the versatility to play all over the secondary. The deal that PFF projects for Maye is for 4-years/$60 million.

John Johnson III - Los Angeles Rams

Age 25, 6’0”/209 lbs.

Stats: Games Played - 16, Speed - 4.61

No. 3 PFF Position Ranking

Interceptions: 1, Pass Defenses: 8, Times Targeted: 68, Completions Against: 47, Completion %: 69%, Touchdowns: 0, Sacks: 0.0, Combined Tackles: 105, Solo Tackles: 73, Tackles For Loss: 2, Quarterback Hits: 0

Overall Grade 85.6 (Elite), Pass Rush 83.9 (High Quality), Run Defense 51.2 (Below Average), Coverage 85.6 (Elite)

Johnson had an injury-filled 2019 season, but he rebounded last season. The Rams Free Agent is an elite safety when healthy and his coverage game is elite. Johnson could garner a deal worth $13.5 million per year, according to PFF. At only 25, Johnson could be a great free agent-sign for team’s needing help at safety.

Justin Simmons – Denver Broncos

Age 27, 6’2”/202 lbs.

Stats: Games Played - 16, Speed - 4.61

No. 8 PFF Position Ranking

Interceptions: 5, Pass Defenses: 9, Times Targeted: 54, Completions Against: 42, Completion %: 77.8%, Touchdowns: 0, Sacks: 0.0, Combined Tackles: 96, Solo Tackles: 77, Tackles For Loss: 3, Quarterback Hits: 0, Fumble Recoveries: 1

Overall Grade 77.4 (High Quality), 74.0 Pass Rush (Above Average), Run Defense 63.0 (Average), Coverage 79.0 (High Quality)

Simmons started out as solid safety for the Broncos and then developed into one of the best in the NFL. Simmons is phenomenal in coverage, but also can read and react quickly against the run and the short passing game. Simmons is going to get a well-deserved, huge contract. PFF projects it in the very posh neighborhood of $16.5 million per season.

Marcus Williams - New Orleans Saints

Age 24, 6’1”/195 lbs.

Stats: Games Played - 14, Speed - 4.56

No. 7 PFF Position Ranking

Interceptions: 3, Pass Defenses: 7, Times Targeted: 26, Completions Against: 16, Completion %: 61.5%, Touchdowns: 0, Sacks: 0.0, Combined Tackles: 59, Solo Tackles: 39, Tackles For Loss: 0, Quarterback Hits: 0

Overall Grade 79.3 (High Quality), Pass Rush 89.6 (Elite), Run Defense 61.8 (Average), Coverage 72.4 (Above Average)

Marcus needs to be known for much more than “The Miracle in Minnesota”, when he was on the wrong end of the Stephon Diggs touchdown in the 2017 playoffs. Ironically, he’s turned into an amazing cover safety, who is also tough against the run. PFF finds him to be a $14.5 million-per-year guy.

Keanu Neal - Atlanta Falcons

Age 25, 6’1”/216 lbs.

Stats: Games Played - 15, Speed - 4.62

No. 33 PFF Position Ranking

Interceptions: 1, Pass Defenses: 2, Times Targeted: 66, Completions Against: 49, Completion %: 74.2%, Touchdowns: 0, Sacks: 1.0, Combined Tackles: 100, Solo Tackles: 76, Tackles For Loss: 9, Quarterback Hits: 3

Overall Grade 68.2 (Above Average), Pass Rush 67.9 (Above Average), Run Defense 74.3 (Above Average), Coverage 66.2 (Above Average)

Keanu Neal’s biggest problem is staying healthy, but he rebounded with a decent season in 2020. If he could get back to his rookie year performance, Neal could be a good addition to a secondary that needs a guy that elevates towards the line of scrimmage and the middle of the football field. PFF wrote that Neal could get a $5 million deal.

Steelers Free Agents - Safety

Sean Davis

Age 27, 6’1”/202 lbs.

Stats: Games Played - 16, Speed - 4.5

PFF Position Ranking - Not Ranked

Interceptions: 0, Pass Defenses: 1, Forced Fumbles: 0, Fumble Recoveries: 1, Times Targeted: 4, Completions Against: 3, Completion %: 75.0%, Touchdowns: 0, Sacks: 0.0, Combined Tackles: 12, Solo Tackles: 11, Tackles For Loss: 0, Quarterback Hits: 0

Overall Grade 58.1 (Average), Pass Rush 59.5 (Average), Run Defense 72.6 (Above Average), Coverage 52.8 (Below Average)

Davis was brought back right before the regular season, but played very sparingly. If given a chance to come back as depth for 2021, it would be at a minimum deal.

Jordan Dangerfield

Age 30, 5’11”/199 lbs.

Stats: Games Played - 15

PFF Position Ranking - Not Ranked

Interceptions: 0, Pass Defenses: 0, Times Targeted: 0, Completions Against: 0, Touchdowns: 0, Sacks: 0.0, Combined Tackles: 10, Solo Tackles: 9, Tackles For Loss: 0, Quarterback Hits: 0

Overall Grade 67.7 (Above Average), Run Defense 63.4 (Average), Coverage 63.6 (Average)

Jordan Dangerfield is most valuable to the Steelers on special teams and doesn’t see much time at his designated position. But I would think that the Steelers might want to retain him nonetheless.

Marcus Allen

Age 24, 6’2”/215 lbs.

Stats: Games Played - 14, Speed - 4.59

PFF Position Ranking - Not Ranked

Interceptions: 0, Pass Defenses: 0, Forced Fumbles: 0, Fumble Recoveries: 0, Times Targeted: 10, Completions Against: 8, Completion %: 80.0%, Touchdowns: 0, Sacks: 0.0, Combined Tackles: 30, Solo Tackles: 19, Tackles For Loss: 2, Quarterback Hits: 2

Overall Grade 49.0 (Below Average), Pass Rush 58.7 (Average), Run Defense 34.7 (Rookie), Coverage 60.0 (Average)

The exclusive-rights free agent was used more at inside linebacker for the Steelers in 2020 and Allen caught on to his new position quickly. That might just give the Penn State Nittany Lion more of an opportunity to stick in the Steel City.

Other Free Agents at Safety

Chris Banjo - Arizona Cardinals

Charles Washington - Arizona Cardinals

Damontae Kazee - Atlanta Falcons

Keanu Neal - Atlanta Falcons

Sharrod Neasman - Atlanta Falcons

Jordan Richards - Baltimore Ravens

Anthony Levine - Baltimore Ravens

Dean Marlowe - Buffalo Bills

DeAndre Houston-Carson - Chicago Bears

Tashaun Gipson - Chicago Bears

Deon Bush - Chicago Bears

Shawn Williams - Cincinnati Bengals

Brandon Wilson - Cincinnati Bengals

Tedric Thompson - Cleveland Browns

Andrew Sendejo - Cleveland Browns

Karl Joseph - Cleveland Browns

Xavier Woods - Dallas Cowboys

Will Parks - Denver Broncos

Justin Simmons - Denver Broncos

Kareem Jackson - Denver Broncos

Duron Harmon - Detroit Lions

Milles Killebrew - Detroit Lions

Michael Thomas - Houston Texans

Tavon Wilson - Indianapolis Colts

Malik Hooker - Indianapolis Colts

Josh Jones - Jacksonville Jaguars

Daniel Sorensen - Kansas City Chiefs

Erik Harris - Las Vegas Raiders

Rayshawn Jenkins - Los Angeles Chargers

Jahleel Addae - Los Angeles Chargers

John Johnson - Los Angeles Rams

Kavon Frazier - Miami Dolphins

George Iloka - Minnesota Vikings

Anthony Harris - Minnesota Vikings

Terrence Brooks - New England Patriots

Cody Davis - New England Patriots

Johnson Bademosi - New Orleans Saints

Marcus Williams - New Orleans Saints

D.J. Swearinger - New Orleans Saints

Adrian Colbert - New York Giants

Nate Ebner - New York Giants

Matthias Farley - New York Jets

Bradley McDougald - New York Jets

Jalen Mills - Philadelphia Eagles

Rudy Ford - Philadelphia Eagles

Jaquiski Tartt - San Francisco 49ers

Delano Hill - Seattle Seahawks

Damarious Randall - Seattle Seahawks

Andrew Adams - Tampa Bay Buccaneers