Last offseason, the safety market was ice cold. Established starters had to wait weeks or even months to get deals, and even then they were mostly of the one-year, prove-it variety. That doesn’t appear to be happening this offseason. Eric Reid signed a new contract with the Panthers before free agency opened. Landon Collins got $84 million over six years from Washington on the first day of the legal tampering period.
And now Kenny Vaccaro is getting a four-year deal worth $26 million from the Tennessee Titans, with whom he signed last season after a prolonged period of sitting on the open market. The contract contains $11.5 million in guarantees.
It should be fascinating to see how the contracts handed out to Vaccaro, Reid, and Collins affect the rest of the safety market, which is as crowded as it is at any position group this offseason.
Vaccaro, for his part, played well for Tennessee last year, teaming with Kevin Byard on the back end to form a nice 1-2 punch at safety. He played and started 13 for the Titans, recording 58 tackles (three for loss), four quarterback hits, four passes defensed, two sacks, and an interception. He graded out as a top-30 safety, per Pro Football Focus, and he had strong marks against both the run and the pass.
Tennessee likely still has work to do on defense, with defending the middle of the field in the passing game standing out as a particular weakness last year. Finding a linebacker who excels in coverage should be a priority, but perhaps the biggest bump they could get is a better season from last year’s blockbuster signing, Malcolm Butler, who struggled badly for much of 2018. Having Byard and Vaccaro locked in behind him should help, as should continued strong play from Adoree’ Jackson on the opposite side of the field.