Is Chicago Bears safety Adrian Amos elite? Pro Football Focus appears to think the fourth-year safety is getting there.
Austin Gayle sorts through a crop of young players believed to be on the cusp of elite status for the upcoming season. Gayle’s list includes Amos, a player who is no stranger to receiving praise from PFF. Last season, he earned a 92.0 grade from the site that put him in the elite category of safeties. Only Minnesota’s Harrison Smith (97.0) picked up a better grade. When you’re being graded as highly as someone widely thought of as the best player at his position, you’re doing something right.
Amos has long been considered a strong tackler (PFF ranked his tackling efficiency as the 11th best among qualifying safeties last year) and it has helped establish him as an excellent run defender. But Amos’ improvements in stopping the pass were evident and his growth in that area helped him toward being among the upper crust of players at the position. PFF’s metrics ranked him second in yards allowed per reception and 15th in passer rating when targeted. Overall, Amos’ 89.5 coverage grade ranked sixth among safeties. Team that with an 89.0 run defense grade that checked in as the fourth best as his position, and you can see why PFF thinks highly of Amos.
Not bad for a player who didn’t begin the 2017 season as a starter and played just 16 snaps in the season’s first three games.
The timing for Amos’ breakout season couldn’t have been better. Amos enters the final year of his rookie contract coming off a season where he played his best ball in a top-10 defense. But valuing Amos and projecting his future contract won’t be easy. After all, Chicago signed Quintin Demps to replace him in the starting lineup before last season despite Amos proving to be a solid, reliable starter for the first two seasons of his career. It wasn’t until Demps went out with a season-ending injury during Week 3 when Amos was able to re-establish himself as a starter and begin his trek to the top of PFF’s grading sheet.
Finding a comparable player who received a big-money contract isn’t easy. Perhaps Kam Chancellor would be a model to follow, especially since he (like Amos) was a fifth-round pick. Chancellor signed a four-year extension worth up to $28 million that included $17 million in April 2013, right before he took off and made three straight trips to the Pro Bowl for Seattle. It’s possible Lamarcus Joyner’s one-year franchise tag number will provide a base for Amos (and other safeties) moving forward. The Rams used the tag to retain a defensive back who PFF graded out as the league’s third best safety. The franchise tag for safeties last season was $11.287 million, and only figures to go up from there. Eric Berry is football’s highest-paid safety, but didn’t cash in on that deal until after seven years, five Pro Bowl appearances, and three first-team All Pro nominations.
Coming into 2018, Amos is expected to pick up where he left off. He doesn’t have any competition for a starting spot and has all the motivation to back up his breakout year with another like it, which would set him up for a major pay day.