With the injuries to Budda Baker (thumb), Chris Banjo (hamstring), and Jalen Thompson (ankle), the Cardinals are now left searching for replacement options at the safety position.
Second-year safety Deionte Thompson is expected to make the start in the upcoming Week 4 matchup against the Carolina Panthers in place of Baker, who will have thumb surgery this week and will miss at least a game.
Thompson fills one spot but there is also another opening. Although many people are suggesting Isaiah Simmons should start at safety this weekend, are the Cardinals willing to halt his development at linebacker to play him at another position?
After Simmons’ slow start in Week 1, he has made steady progress in his limited reps. He received coverage grades of 60.7 and 64.2 in the following weeks. Despite only 35 snaps this season, progress is progress however limited it is.
If he starts this weekend and performs well, he might make a case to stay at the safety position for the long-term future. Him along with Baker and Jalen Thompson could end up being the best trio of safeties in football. Until then, we will all have to wait and see regarding the Cardinals’ plans in wake of the injuries.
The Cardinals reportedly worked out safety T.J. Ward but he has not played since 2017. Tony Jefferson is a player that Cardinals also have interest in but he has informed the team that he is not quite ready to play just yet as he is still rehabbing his ACL injury that he suffered in Week 5 of last season.
They did sign Curtis Riley a couple weeks ago off the Steelers’ practice squad and he is currently listed as the backup to the injured Banjo. Although he is the only healthy safety on the team with the most starting experience, the Cardinals interest in free agent safeties show that he is not entirely favored by the team to start this weekend.
There are still many quality free agent options that include Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Reshad Jones, Damarious Randall, and Eric Reid. Former All-Pro safety Earl Thomas is an option as well.
Reshad Jones had one of his best seasons in the NFL back in 2016 when Vance Joseph was his defensive coordinator with the Miami Dolphins. Before his injury that limited him to only six games that season, he recorded 51 tackles and an interception.
His 86.4 PFF coverage grade was the fourth-best among safeties and his 85.3 overall grade was the ninth-best at his position. Jones is 32 years old and is, however, coming off chest and shoulder injuries that limited him to four games in 2019.
The Cardinals have plenty of options to choose from. At some point this season, they will be tempted to play Simmons at safety and it might very well be this weekend considering no additions have been made yet in response to the injuries.
Let’s see what happens.