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Free Agent Primer: Safeties

Position-by-position look for Cardinals finishes with the last line of defense


Safety Yeremiah Bell is a free agent-to-be.

Free agency begins on Tuesday. The Cardinals have many key pieces in place, but there are still needs to be addressed. This is the final positional breakdown as unsigned NFL players prepare to hit the open market.

More free agent analysis: QB I RB I WR I TE I OL I ST I DL I LB I CB

Free agent primer: Safety

Cap numbers of players under contract for 2014: Rashad Johnson ($2.13 million); Tyrann Mathieu ($713,281); Curtis Taylor ($645,000); Tony Jefferson ($498,366); Orhian Johnson ($420,000)

Scheduled free agents: Yeremiah Bell

Need: High

Analysis: Yeremiah Bell was competent in 2013, but he is a scheduled free agent and the Cardinals may look to get younger at strong safety. Undrafted free agent Tony Jefferson played well when called upon as a rookie and should compete for more playing time in 2014, although General Manager Steve Keim will still look to bolster the position. Mathieu is locked in as the free safety provided his knee heals from torn ligaments, although his versatility also allows Cardinals coach Bruce Arians to use him as a nickel cornerback in sub-packages. Rashad Johnson ceded his starting position to Mathieu midway through the season but recaptured it after Mathieu was hurt. He is an important fixture in the secondary, either starting or as a reserve.

Mathieu is a potential star, but the Cardinals would like to upgrade around him. The team had trouble guarding tight ends last season and may look for a physical strong safety in free agency or the draft to shore up that weakness.

Notable scheduled NFL free agents: Jairus Byrd, T.J. Ward, Donte Whitner, Chris Clemons, James Ihedigbo, Husain Abdullah, Louis Delmas, Antoine Bethea, Malcolm Jenkins, Ryan Clark, Mike Mitchell, Charles Woodson, Taylor Mays, Ryan Mundy, Roman Harper, Michael Huff, Quintin Demps, Steve Gregory, Darian Stewart, Mike Adams, Nate Allen, Kendrick Lewis.

Notable past free agent S signings by the Cardinals: Yeremiah Bell (2013); James Sanders (2012); Hamza Abdullah (2009); Dexter Jackson (2003); Matt Darby (1996); Andre Waters (1994); Mike Zordich (1989).

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