Perennial Pro Bowl safety Earl Thomas is viewed a top free-agent target for the San Francisco 49ers this offseason. Yet there are a number of other safeties available on the open market.
Thomas, who will turn 30 years old and is coming off a serious season-ending leg injury last year, will have plenty of suitors, however. The Dallas Cowboys appear to be in on Thomas, although cap constraints could limit their pursuit, especially considering Thomas wants to be paid higher than any other safety in 2019.
Perhaps those financial obligations deter the Niners, too.
Should that be the case, general manager John Lynch is fortunate the free-agent market at safety will likely be pretty deep, as NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero pointed out:
Safety Eric Weddle is out, too, as NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported.
The New York Giants aren’t placing the franchise tag on three-time Pro Bowl safety Landon Collins. The problem there, though, is Collins is more of an in-the-box safety, and San Francisco already has two of those capable of starting in 2019, Jaquiski Tartt and Marcell Harris. It’s possible the 49ers move Tartt to free safety — a position he’s played at the pro level before — target Collins and move him to strong safety. But the smart money would be on the Niners going another direction.
The Los Angeles Rams’ Lamarcus Joyner does have back-end experience and would make a solid addition. So would the Houston Texans’ Tyrann Mathieu, who earned first-team All-Pro honors playing this spot with the Arizona Cardinals back in 2015.
Chicago Bears safety Adrian Amos is also a possibility, and the Bears could see their defensive cast shake up a bit following the loss of defensive coordinator Vic Fangio to the Denver Broncos’ head coaching vacancy.
Another low-key name Pelissero didn’t mention is Cardinals safety Tre Boston, who has bounced around the league the past few years but still has managed to put together quality efforts, which include a combined eight interceptions for the Los Angeles Chargers and Cardinals the past two seasons.
Boston, 26 years old, is still young and would likely come on the cheap, particularly if the deal extended beyond two years. Even if the Niners landed one of the other high-profile players, signing Boston would make a lot of sense.
Remember, the 49ers employed seven different starting safeties over the course of 2018. Depth can be just as crucial as finding impact starters.
Either way, the Niners’ targets will be much more clear when the NFL free agency legal tampering period begins on March 11.