After Pete E. Tong suggested Michael Griffin as a potential free agent, I realized that we've spent close to zero time on free safety. Let's remedy that.
The Falcons have been relatively quiet about Thomas DeCoud beyond indicating that they'd like to re-sign him. It's worth remembering that both DeCoud and James Sanders are free agents, and unless the Falcons want to bring both back, they'll have a need for at least a reserve safety. If they choose to wash their hands of both—which I don't expect, but it's a possibility—then they have to find a new starter in free agency or in the draft. I don't think Shann Schillinger's going to miraculously switch from reserve strong safety to starting FS.
One option for filling that hypothetical hole is Michael Griffin.
Griffin's a 27-year-old free agent free safety who spent the first five years of his career with the Tennessee Titans. In that span, he's amassed 389 tackles, two sacks, 44 pass deflections and 17 interceptions. He has a nose for the ball and is fairly well-regarded for his coverage skills, but is also regularly knocked for inconsistency. Sound like anybody you know?
When you look at DeCoud, who also toils under the "inconsistent" label, you find a fairly similar player who had a better year in 2011 and is actually a little younger, albeit without quite the same level of career production. Let's go to the side-by-side:
- DeCoud: 86 tackles, zero sacks, six pass deflections, four interceptions
- Griffin: 75 tackles, zero sacks, seven pass deflections, two interceptions
Both are known for their coverage and less for their run support. Both are prone to the occasional bad angle. Both can ballhawk when called upon to do so. Griffin is shorter and heavier, but they are at their core fairly similar players. Griffin has the longer track record and DeCoud had a better 2011, so feel free to place your weight weight where you will.
If DeCoud does walk, though, Griffin's a talented enough player to approximate his value and potentially exceed it against the run. He's probably the natural choice if the Falcons elect to fill that (again, hypothetical) hole in free agency, and he likely won't be prohibitively expensive. Given that the Titans seem to be focusing heavily on fellow safety Jordan Babineaux, it's not unreasonable to think he'll make it to the open market, either.
Your thoughts on Griffin and free safety in general?