It appears that 2013 will be the year of the handsomely paid free agent safety in the NFL.
Late Wednesday evening, LaRon Landry became the latest, with a four-year deal from the Indianapolis Colts.
Not long after the Atlanta Falcons re-signed their Pro Bowl safety William Moore, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed a Pro Bowl safety of their own in Dashon Goldson, formerly of the San Francisco 49ers.
Soon after Goldson’s deal, Landry and the Colts followed suit, as the free agent safety carousel continues to spin.
Moore got a five-year, $30 million deal from the Falcons a few days before the start of free agency, with a reported $14 million of that salary guaranteed. All in all, it’s looking like a solid deal for both sides.
Goldson, arguably the cream of the free agent safety crop, agreed to a five-year, $41 million deal (and $18 million guaranteed) with the Bucs early Wednesday. Now, the game of musical chairs for the safeties has truly begun.
LaRon Landry’s four-year deal with the Colts will reportedly pay him a total of $24 million, with up to $14 million guaranteed. $11 million of that is fully guaranteed, with an additional $3 million guaranteed for injury only.
What a difference a year makes for the newest Colt.
Last offseason, after his rookie contract with the Washington Redskins expired, the market for Landry’s services was pretty lackluster. Landry boldly decided to sign a one-year deal with the New York Jets to prove himself.
Essentially betting on himself and his future, Landry turned that one-year deal into his best pro season, as he made his first Pro Bowl, and just as importantly, he avoided the injury bug that had plagued him in the past.
The Jets may not have had the team success they were hoping for, but Landry and Antonio Cromartie helped a Darrelle Revis-less secondary still finish second in the NFL in passing yards allowed per game.
Landry parlayed that into a big free agent payday, one that the Jets were unable and unwilling to match. Now, the Jets will likely have to go young, as they may look for more cost-efficient safety help in the draft.
While he did bring a great presence as an enforcer over the middle, it’s pretty clear that the Jets were never going to commit serious dollars for a player like Landry, whose injury history scared off plenty of teams in the past.
But kudos to LaRon Landry, for going all-in on himself and hitting the jackpot. The 28-year-old will be all smiles for the next few years, thanks to Jim Irsay and his deep pockets, but the Jets were wise to be wary of the price tag.