2015 NFL Free Agency: Top Five Safeties Available

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Dec 15, 2013; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns free safety Tashaun Gipson (39) intercepts a pass during the second quarter against the Chicago Bears at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

1. Tashaun Gipson (RFA)

Pros: is a more than capable staring safety at the young age of 24 (he’ll turn 25 in August). Gipson played corner at Wyoming before switching to safety, and plays the position with speed, athleticism and cornerback coverage instincts. He is an excellent all-purpose coverage safety, able to play center field in a single high, or give good help in a deep half, but also can come down and cover a slot receiver one-on-one if necessary. He has a sturdy frame at 5’11” and 210 pounds that allows him to hold up around the line of scrimmage. Gipson is coming off a Pro Bowl season in which he had six interceptions, giving him twelve in his three-year NFL career.

Cons: has less than ideal size despite his sturdy frame, and is a matchup liability against tight ends and bigger receivers. He still needs to develop as a tackler, and sometimes takes bad angles, and either arm tackles or tries to go for knockouts rather than wrapping up.

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  • Scheme Fit: despite his sturdy frame, Gipson is a pure free safety because of his cover skills, height, and lack of development as a tackler. He’s one of the best young free safeties in the game, however, and could come in and start for any team in the league if they’ll have him. For the Raiders, if he were signed, it would probably necessitate a move by Charles Woodson over to the strong safety role.

    Market Value: right now Gipson is a restricted free agent awaiting a tender offer from the Browns that must be made by today, and many observers speculate it will be a second round tender. A second round safety tender is not a massive salary, but it would force a team to have to give up a 2nd round pick as compensation in order to sign him, which may or may not be worth it for teams.

    Would he sign with the Raiders: doubtful. If he is indeed a second-round tendered player, Reggie McKenzie isn’t going to want to part with one of his precious draft picks to get him. Gipson would be a great long-term solution at free safety for the Raiders, of course, but not at the cost of a 2nd rounder. Now, if the Browns let him walk, or tender him at the 3rd or 4th round level…keep an eye on him.