The question for every loss is who replaces that player?
For the Arizona Cardinals, the losses we're substantial on the defense, in terms of players who played at a high level in 2016.
Take Tony Jefferson, who was ranked by Pro Football Focus as the best safety against the run in the NFL in 2016.
Tony Jefferson is as good as it gets at the safety position versus the run pic.twitter.com/O8WxbGinM7— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) July 3, 2017
There's a three pronged approach to replacing Jefferson.
- The Arizona Cardinals have put a number of safeties in Jefferson's position and been successful.
- Haason Reddick makes a quick transition at inside linebacker.
- Deone Bucannon playing better against the run in 2017 will lessen the burden on the safeties.
The Cardinals have exercised their fifth-year option on Deone Bucannon, who has been one of the NFL's top coverage LBs the last two years. pic.twitter.com/QdbCpMJ2OC— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) April 27, 2017
As Bucannon continues to grow as linebacker, the Cardinals will rely less and less on their safeties for run support.
Until then, Bethea will need to hold down the fort.
The question is, can he be as good as most safeties in the Arizona Cardinals scheme?
Last season he was in the bottom tier of the NFL in terms of safety play, but that was with the 49ers.
Who can help lessen the loss of Jefferson?