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Steelers Free Agency: Who’s Left in Safety Market?



Steelers Free Agency Safety Cleveland Browns John Johnson III

It appears that the Pittsburgh Steelers will not be bringing back safety Terrell Edmunds, as he posted his goodbye to the city and his teammates on Twitter on Thursday morning.

The Steelers have already re-signed third safety Damontae Kazee, but the Steelers could use one more body at strong safety, and the thought here is, it should probably be a bigger one. Kazee is good as a half-field safety, and with the Steelers playing more Cover 2, that fits. But they will also want the ability to put an eighth man in the box against the likes of the Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns and Tennessee` Titans, which represent five of their 17 games in 2023.

If they want to bring in another player to replace Edmunds, who else is out there? Let’s take a look at our free agent safety big board and who remains.


Players on Steelers roster: Minkah Fitzpatrick, Damontae Kazee, Miles Killebrew, Tre Norwood
Steelers free agents: Karl Joseph

CIN Jessie Bates III Signed with ATL; four years, $64.02 million
BUF Jordan Poyer Re-signed with BUF; two years, $12.5 million
PHI Chauncy Gardner-Johnson Signed with DET; 1 year, $8 million
CIN Vonn Bell Signed with CAR; three years, $22.5 million
SF Jimmy Ward Signed with HOU; two years, $13 million
NYG Julian Love Signed with SEA; two years; $12 million
LAR Taylor Rapp
KC Juan Thornhill Signed with CLE; three years, $21 million
DAL Donovan Wilson Re-signed with DAL; three years, #21 million
GB Adrian Amos
IND Rodney McLeod
PHI Marcus Epps Signed with LV; two years, $12 million
LAR Nick Scott Signed with CIN; three years, $12 million
LV Duron Harmon
DET DeShon Elliott Signed with MIA, one year, $1.77 million
CLE John Johnson III
SF Tashaun Gipson Re-signed with SF; one year, $2.9 million
DEN Kareem Jackson
TB Mike Edwards Signed with KC; one year, $3 million
PIT Terrell Edmunds

Let’s dive further into some of those names that are still available, that seem like they might be good fits for the Steelers at the position.

Taylor Rapp, Los Angeles Rams

6-foot, 208 pounds, 25 years old

Rapp has been a four-year starter for the Los Angeles Rams at strong safety after being selected as a second-round pick out of Washington in 2019.

He missed some time in 2020 with a knee injury, but has played 33 of 34 games over the last two season.

Strengths: Rapp is an excellent tackler, wrapping up 100, 94 and 92 in his three full seasons as a starter. He also gets his hands on the football. He had 12 passes defended and six interceptions over the last two seasons. Edmunds had five passes defended and five interceptions in five seasons.

Weaknesses: Rapp can struggle with certain matchups in coverage. Overall, he has allowed an 86.1 passer rating when targeted, which is pretty good. But he has also given up six touchdowns over the last two seasons.

Certain offenses seemed to pick on him. Last season, Rapp gave up six catches on eight targets for 75 yards against the Arizona Cardinals, five catches on seven targets for 34 yards against the Kansas City Chiefs and four catches on six targets for 44 yards against the Seattle Seahawks. It’s hard to compare some of that to how he might play in Pittsburgh. The Rams used him as a half-field safety about a third of the time and play a very different scheme than the Steelers.

Adrian Amos, Green Bay Packers

6-foot, 214 pounds, 29 years old

Amos is the ultimate bounce-back candidate. If a team gets the player he was from 2015-21, they will be very happy with their signing. If they get the player he was in 2022, adding him could be a disaster.

Strengths: Amos brings a ton of reliable experience, having starting every single one of his teams’ games over the last five seasons. He’s a sure tackler and has shown the ability to get his hands on the ball. The Packers’ 3-4 scheme is more similar to the Steelers’ than most NFL defenses.

Weaknesses: The Penn State product was a shell of himself in 2022. He allowed a 123.8 passer rating against in coverage, and his stats waned, posted one interception and five passes defended, both five-year lows.

Amos was nominally a strong safety for the Packers, but less than half of his career snaps have come in the box or the slot.

John Johnson III, Cleveland Browns

6-foot, 209 pounds, 27 years old

Johnson was released two years into a three-year, $33.75 million deal with the Browns, after serving as a starter for each of the first two season. Johnson was also a four-year starter for the L.A. Rams from 2017-20.

Strengths: Very solid in coverage, with a 77.7 passer rating against in 2022. Only 57.9% of the throws targeting his player were completed. Johnson has not been asked to rush the passer much, but appears to be good at it. Last season, he had one sack, one hurry and one quarterback hit in just six pass-rush reps. Johnson is already very familiar with the opponents of the AFC North.

Weaknesses: Another player that is probably better suited to a free safety role than playing in the box, Johnson had just 362 snaps in the box or slot last season, compared to 689 as a back-field safety. He is not as stout of a tackler as the others, with a career 10.3% missed tackle rate.

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