The NFL Playoffs rage on, but for the vast majority of teams they are in full offseason mode. As coaches across the league are relieved of their duties with their specific teams, players who are about to enter free agency are also left wondering what will happen with their football future.
For any player listed below, they are slated to become Unrestricted Free Agents (UFA), which means if they don’t sign a contract before the start of the new league year they are free to sign with the team of their choosing. It also should be noted players who have the franchise tag placed on them would remain under contract for the 2023 season, based on what kind of tag is used.
However, as we sit here right now, here is a list of the top safeties who are slated to be UFAs this offseason. Some are due big-time contracts, which would take them off the list, while others might get tagged in one way or another. Nonetheless, many on the list will be willing to go to the highest bidder once the league tampering period starts on March 13th, and the new league year begins March 15th.
Let’s get to the free agent list...
Jessie Bates (27) / Cincinnati Bengals
Bates is by far the high-profile free agent of the group, and it remains a mystery why the Bengals haven’t tried to lock him up long-term. He likely saw the deal Minkah Fitzpatrick earned last offseason, and wants more. After his 4 INTs this season, and the Bengals heading to the AFC Championship game for the second year in a row, Bates is about to hit pay day somewhere.
Jordan Poyer (31) / Buffalo Bills
While older, Poyer as proven he can still play. A veteran safety who brings value both on and off the field. His 4 INT season doesn’t illustrate all he brings to a defense.
Jimmie Ward (31) / San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers free safety has been a unique puzzle piece for the San Francisco defense. A veteran, he isn’t just playing in the NFC Championship game this weekend, but also had a regular season which saw him show off his versatility.
Vonn Bell (28) / Cincinnati Bengals
It’s hard to believe both Bengals safeties are going to be free agents this offseason, and it seems unlikely the organization brings both back. If Bates is the priority, Bell’s 4 QB hits, 1 sack, 2 FF, and 4 INT season certainly showed what he can do for future suitors.
Terrell Edmunds (25) / Pittsburgh Steelers
Edmunds was a steady force in the back end of the Steelers’ secondary, but most will pass over Edmunds considering his lack of splash plays. In 2022 Edmunds only recorded 1 sack and 1 QB Hit. He didn’t register a FF, FR, or INT in the season. But it doesn’t mean he doesn’t provide value. At his age, I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Steelers try their best in keeping him before he hits the open market.
Devin McCourty (35) / New England Patriots
The aging veteran continues to turn back the clock, and the question with McCourty is does he want to continue to play. Posting 4 INTs in 2022, he showed he can still get the job done, but the price, and team, will have to be right for him to leave New England next season.
Tashaun Gipson (32) / San Francisco 49ers
Like the Bengals, the 49ers have two of their safeties hitting free agency at season’s end. Gispon, also a veteran like Ward, played just shy of 1,000 snaps in 2022, registered 1 sack, 1 QB hit and 5 INTs. Like Cincinnati, will San Francisco be able to keep both? It will be intriguing to watch.
LeMarcus Joyner (32) / New York Jets
The Jets safety is coming off a 3 INT and 2 QB Hit season, and should be a valuable commodity on the open market. For any team looking for a valuable free safety, who might not break the bank, Joyner could be that guy.
Kareem Jackson (34) / Denver Broncos
Like McCourty, Jackson is getting to the stage in his career where you have to wonder how many years he wants to continue to play. Jackson played over 1,000 snaps in 2022, but like Terrell Edmunds was unable to provide any splash plays for the Broncos.
Duron Harmon (31) / Las Vegas Raiders
The SS from Vegas is coming off a season where he registered 2 FF and 2 INTs in over 1,100 snaps in 2022. He would be a welcome addition to any number of defenses in 2023. Will the Raiders do their best to keep him? Or will he be looking for a new home? At the age of 31, it looks as if he still has several years of football left in him.
Other notable free agent safeties:
- Damontae Kazee
- Daniel Sorenson
- Keanu Neal
- Ronnie Harrison
- Nasir Adderley
- Juan Thornhill
- Adrian Amos
- Jabrill Peppers
Other Top 10 Lists:
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest free agency news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the rest of the offseason.