After months of speculation, safety Darren Sharper is finally taking a free-agent visit, as ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting that he will be in Jacksonville today to meet with Jack Del Rio and the Jags.
A good fit? Yes, if you look at the current free safety situation in Jacksonville with Reggie Nelson — a player that has struggled to make plays down the field. And, that is the reason you bring in a guy like Sharper despite his age (34). As I talked about yesterday in discussing why USC’s Taylor Mays slipped to the second round, safeties that can make plays on the football are in high demand. The Jags, or any other team, can live with some missed tackles, because there is a payoff when Sharper is playing the middle of the field and jumping routes.
Schefter also mentioned that the Cowboys have some interest, as well. The Dallas 3-4 scheme is predicated on pressure, and to play a pressure style of defense at the NFL level you must have a player at safety that can get over the top of vertical routes and allow corners to funnel receivers to the middle of the field. That is a must for the Cowboys.
However, this could still be a classic case of Sharper trying to drive up his market value and entice the Saints to offer some more cash at the table. I’ve said before that the veteran safety is a perfect fit for Gregg Williams’ defense down in New Orleans, and I still believe that. He gets some freedom in that scheme — controlled freedom — that allows him to make those plays on the football.
Sharper is marketable and he does provide every NFL GM and coach with what you want from a free safety in the NFL. Turnovers are king — and you pay for turnovers.
From a player’s perspective, testing the market is a positive for any free agent, but when it comes to production, Sharper’s best play is still in New Orleans.
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