On offense, teams have been paying veteran running backs less and less money. Veteran safeties seem to be lagging behind their teammates on the defensive side of the ball.
Reggie Nelson, a one-time first-rounder who drew an offer from the Jets, inked a four-year, $18 million contract to stay with the Bengals, according to a source with knowledge of the deal.
For 2012, Nelson gets a $2.5 million signing bonus, a $2.5 million roster bonus, and a $1.45 million base salary.
In 2013, Nelson is due to receive a $1 million roster bonus and a base salary of $2.45 million.
The deal concludes with base salaries of $3.8 million and $4.1 million, respectively, in 2014 and 2015.
The $4.5 million average is $1.1 million per year more than the deal signed by safety Dwight Lowery with the Jaguars, who received $3 million to sign and a guaranteed 2012 base salary of $1 million. For safety Steve Gregory, his deal with the Patriots pays out $7.05 million over three years, with $2.5 million guaranteed and a $2.35 million average. Safety Mike Adams got $4 million over two years from the Broncos, with $2 million guaranteed. And the Colts gave safety Tom Zbikowski $5.5 million over three years, with a $1 million signing bonus, for a $1.83 million average. Safety Haruki Nakumara will get $4.8 million over three years from the Panthers, and $1 million guaranteed ($1.6 million average).
Given the lack of significant long-term money at the position, guys like Brodney Pool (Cowboys, one year, $1.1 million) and LaRon Landry (Jets, one year, $4 million) opted for a short-term deal and another shot at the market in 2013.
So, like the running back position, a couple of truly elite safeties (Ed Reed, Troy Polamalu) will be paid very well. For the rest, it would have been better to play cornerback.