Something strange and confusing has happened this year with the safety market. Plenty of them were available to be signed, but few of them were — and none for big money.
Some think that the safety market generally took a hit because not because the position suddenly has been devalued but because one of the prominent free-agent safeties became persona non grata for his protests during the anthem, his open support of Colin Kaepernick, and (perhaps most importantly) his unwillingness to go along with the wink-nod solution to the controversy that the league hoped to achieve last year by having direct negotiations between owners and players.
Safety Tre Boston, who signed a one-year, $1.5 million deal late last month with the Cardinals, recently made vague but unmistakable reference to former 49ers safety Eric Reid in comments to Robert Mays of TheRinger.com.
“Somebody’s not going to play football this year, and then he won’t be a free agent next year,” Boston said. “Everyone knows what’s going on.”
In other words, Boston believes that Reid will be out of football by next March, and that NFL teams will be able to pay safeties once again.
“How did we get to a point where this is what we were worth?” Boston said. “You can put my stats up against some of the best of them you’re gonna get me in the $7 million-plus range. It’s crazy that people aren’t really talking about how we managed to get paid less than $2 million. It’s right in front of our eyes. Somebody’s got to call a spade a spade.”
Boston stopped short of doing it himself, but the point is clear. But for guys like Reid, the money would be flowing to guys like Boston.
“Last year, [there were] three highly paid safeties,” Boston said. “It was the highest our market has ever been. And then it just flops this year. It’s the first year any top-five group of free agents has waited into training camp. And a week into camp two of the top five sign. It’s just obvious [what the reasoning is]. I don’t understand why the questions are even there.”
It will be interesting to see what happens next year, after a full season goes by and Reid possibly is gone and forgotten and other safeties possibly get paid a lot more than they got paid this year.
Or maybe Reid will get a job. Maybe there won’t be any more flight delays when a team supposedly wants to give him a workout. Maybe someone will be willing to ignore the not-so-subtle messages from 345 that players like Reid or Colin Kaepernick should be shunned because they are “bad for business.”
Maybe, but not bloody likely. Last year, it was Kaepernick. This year, it’s Reid and, by necessity, those who play the same position that he plays.