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Free Agent Primer 2021: Safety

Cardinals in good shape at position with Budda Baker, Jalen Thompson tandem

S Chris Banjo, an impending free agent, filled in as a starter regularly in 2020.
S Chris Banjo, an impending free agent, filled in as a starter regularly in 2020.

The Cardinals cannonballed into free agency, signing J.J. Watt to a two-year deal. The work isn't done, as GM Steve Keim must fill other holes on the roster this offseason. The new league year begins on Wednesday, March 17, with the legal tampering period opening on Monday, March 15. We will break down each position group as free agency draws near.

Free agent primer: Safety

Other free agent primers: CB I WR I LB I TE I DL I RB I OL I ST I QB

Cap hit of players under contract for 2021 (via Budda Baker ($7.8 million); Jalen Thompson ($935,730); Deionte Thompson ($937,542); Chris Miller ($660,000).

Scheduled free agents: Chris Banjo; Charles Washington.

Need: Low

Analysis: The Cardinals are in good shape at safety. Budda Baker has turned into an All-Pro and will be one of the key players on the team for the foreseeable future after signing a long-term deal before last season. Jalen Thompson had an injury-marred 2020 campaign, but has proven to be a starting-caliber safety when he's been healthy. As long as Thompson's ankle injury is a thing of the past in 2021, the Cardinals should have their starters set.

Deionte Thompson improved in his second year and is a quality depth piece. Chris Banjo filled in as the starter for much of the year and also contributed on special teams. He would seem to be a good piece to bring back as insurance at the position, if the two sides can agree on terms.

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The NFL free agency period starts on March 17. Visit our free agent tracker page to follow all the movement.

Charles Washington is a special teams ace that could also return if there is mutual interest in that happening.

The Cardinals have serious question marks at cornerback, but the starting safety duo of Baker and Thompson is solid. Inside linebacker Isaiah Simmons played some safety in 2020 and could be deployed there depending on matchups, making it an even deeper position group.

Keim is not expected to be very active at this position in free agency.

Notable past free agent safety signings: Tre Boston (2018); Antoine Bethea (2017); Tyvon Branch (2016); Yeremiah Bell (2013); James Sanders (2012); Hamza Abdullah (2009); Dexter Jackson (2003); Matt Darby (1996); Andre Waters (1994); Mike Zordich (1989).

Images of some of the top free agent safeties scheduled to hit the open market