I know everyone is still buzzing over the Craig Dahl signing, but the San Francisco 49ers may not be done adding free agent safeties. Crazy, I know. Speaking of Dahl, his contract terms were reported by one Matthew Maiocco: three years, $5 million with a signing bonus of $800,000. That’s less than what A.J. Jenkins makes — I’m not saying that as a knock on Jenkins, just that Dahl is getting paid like a high second rounder, and he’s an NFL veteran who has started 42 games. While Dahl is “just a guy” to most observers, the 49ers got pretty good value with this signing.
It isn’t breaking news that the 49ers approach this time of year like astute stock pickers, focusing on the market more than any individual player. With the market for defensive backs not all that robust this year — Dashon Goldson’s deal aside — San Francisco probably has their eyes on several safeties who could help next year … at the right price.
One or maybe even all of the following three safeties on this list will get paid, and not by the 49ers. These aren’t your Dahl types, they’re big names who probably think they deserve somewhere north of $4-5 million per year. But if one of these safeties slip through the cracks in the coming days/weeks and don’t get the offer they thought they would, Trent Baalke could very well pounce. One player who won’t be on this list: Ed Reed. Houston seems really interested, and Baltimore isn’t out of the picture. Someone will (Teddy KGB voice) pay that man his money.
The 49ers have already talked to him, but his agent said they never talked specifically about years and dollars. This leads me to believe the 49ers threw out an offer so far into the lowball zone that he doesn’t even want it associated with his client. However, Woodson turns 37 in October, only played in seven regular season games (plus two playoff games), and has only been linked to the 49ers so far, at least publicly. On the plus side, Woodson played 15 games in 2011 and tied for the league lead in interceptions with seven, and might be the best possible mentor for whichever free safety the 49ers draft and/or Trenton Robinson and Michael Thomas.
The Cardinals are remaking their team. Specifically, they’re getting younger. So out goes Rhodes, who had a very productive 2012. Rhodes, 31 when the 2013 season starts, is like Woodson’s alter ego, at least in terms of games played over the last two seasons — Rhodes played in only seven games in 2011 and 15 in 2012. Rhodes was the seventh-best coverage safety last season according to Pro Football Focus, with the only free agent safety ahead of him being Ronde Barber (it seems like Barber will either re-sign with the Bucs or retire, so adding him doesn’t seem realistic).
As we’ve mentioned before, Huff is one of those former top-10 overall picks who didn’t become a full-fledged superstar that Baalke seems to love. Huff can cover, and was even moved to cornerback — although that was probably due just as much to the Raiders’ personnel weaknesses than Huff playing better at corner than safety. It’d be interesting to see what he could do on a team with strong leadership and an excellent front seven.