Four years, $18 million for Reggie Nelson

Getty Images

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.