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Free Agent Primer 2024: Safety

Thompson's emergence and Baker's consistency remains steadfast going into 2024


After finishing his first season as a head coach with a 4-13 record, Jonathan Gannon said that while he was pleased with the teams’ fight, it simply wasn’t good enough. Now that those in the locker room and throughout the league have an idea how a Gannon-Monti Ossenfort regime operates, they'll look to build a playoff contender through free agency and the draft. The new league year begins on March 13, and with that comes free agency. Here's the ninth of 11 position breakdowns.

Free Agent primer schedule: S March 6; TE March 7; OLB March 8

Other free agent primers: DL, OL, QB, ILB, ST, WR, CB, RB

Cap hit of players under contract for 2024 (via Budda Baker ($19,025,000), Jalen Thompson ($12,467,750), Andre Chachere ($1,055,000), Joey Blount ($985,000), Qwuantrezz Knight ($915,000), Verone McKinley ($915,000)

Need: Low

Analysis: Anytime Budda Baker is on the field patrolling the Cardinals defense, the unit is automatically better. The captain has been the heart and soul of the Cardinals for years. Baker returning before training camp despite contract issues was huge for Gannon in his inaugural season in the Valley, and his play on the field earned him a sixth straight Pro Bowl nod.

Baker's counterpart, Jalen Thompson, also had a good season. Thompson finished with a team-high four interceptions, and nine pass deflections to go along with 78 tackles. Both Thompson and Baker went down with injuries in the early portion of the season and their absence was felt. At the Pro Bowl, Baker gave his partner kudos.

Andre Chachere and Joey Blount mostly played special teams but different personnel calls by defensive coordinator Nick Rallis sometimes had them on the field. The secondary hasn't been an area of concern when assessing the Cardinals defense and likely won't heading into the 2024 season.

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).

A look at some of the top safeties across the NFL who are scheduled to become free agents in mid-March