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Arizona Cardinals offseason: Team in good shape with safety position

We finish the defense looking at the position group that looks to be in the best shape.

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Today we wrap up the defense in our positional review. We look at the safeties.

The roster:

Deone Bucannon, under contract through 2017
D.J. Campbell, under contract through 2016
Chris Clemons, will be unrestricted free agent
Tony Jefferson, under contract through 2015
Rashad Johnson, under contract through 2015
Tyrann Mathieu, under contract through 2016

Looking back at 2014:

After the 2013 season, the Cardinals wanted to get longer, faster and more athletic at safety. Yeremiah Bell retired and they drafted Deone Bucannon. Guess what? They were immediately faster, longer and more athletic. But the thing was Bucannon only saw a few snaps at safety.

Veteran Rashad Johnson was the on-field leader and second-year player Tony Jefferson kept Bucannon on the bench while Tyrann Mathieu recovered from his knee injury from 2013.

Jefferson was the league's leading tackler through several games, but when Mathieu got healthy, Jefferson was relegated to base packages while Mathieu played in nickel/dime sets.

Johnson played very well almost all season, collecting four interceptions, leading the team in tackles and scoring touchdowns on defense. He did appear to wear down down the stretch, as did everyone else. According to Pro Football Focus, he missed eight tackles in the final three weeks and 19 for the season.

Bucannon, the rookie, was relegated to playing linebacker -- "dollar linebacker," as it was called, in dime.nickel packages. He was used to add speed and was asked to do much of what Daryl Washington was asked to do when he played in 2013. He was very good for a good stretch and then seemed to disappear down the stretch.

Clemons was a late-season addition who never saw the field.

Looking ahead:

This is a group that doesn't appear will change in 2015. There is really only one question -- will Bucannon take over for someone at safety?

Johnson played well enough to keep his starting job, but if he is starting, then it means Tyrann Mathieu isn't on the field. Will Mathieu be a part-time player again?

What will Jefferson's role be this next season, assuming Bucannon's role increases.

Needless to say, there is no real need to change anything in terms of personnel. They have young players and a veteran player.

I don't see them adding anyone significant in free agency. Anybody added would just be, as we say, a "camp body."

I would be surprised if they drafted a safety.


The Cardinals are set up nicely for 2015 and beyond. Johnson's deal expires after this coming season. Jefferson will be a restricted free agent. The future will be Mathieu and Bucannon, but if Mathieu returns to playing nickel corner, Jefferson could be in the rotation.

I would have to say that this is the one position that is fine the way it is.

What do you think?