Free-agent defensive back Logan Ryan wants to be viewed by potential suitors as a safety. More than anything, the goal is to sign in a place where his multifaceted ability can be utilized in a winning fashion.
Ryan is coming off a season in which he earned four INTs, four forced fumbles, 113 tackles, four tackles for loss, eight QB hits, and 4.5 sacks. The 29-year-old joined NFL Network's Good Morning Football on Thursday to discuss why he'd like to be seen as a safety rather than a cornerback.
"Look at the numbers -- 100 tackles, four sacks, four forced fumbles, the pass break-ups, the INTs. I just feel like that's not really possible too much at just playing corner, so could a team move me around a lot?" Ryan said. "... I was a versatile player, a matchup guy, similar to a Tyrann Mathieu, maybe a Justin Simmons. I feel like that was more the position I was playing last year for Dean Pees, as opposed to a true traditional corner, so it's hard to compare me to that."
Last week, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported that Ryan's agent sent out a list of the CB's stats compared to other top safeties in the NFL. While we pointed out it's difficult to compare stats given where Ryan lined up versus that of other free safeties, Ryan noted that on many of his big plays -- including the playoff pick-six of Tom Brady -- he was playing the role of a safety.
"All the interceptions you're showing (on NFL Network), the Baker Mayfield one, the one against the Colts, even the Tom Brady interception, I'm playing safety in all those clips," Ryan said of the B-roll playing over his interview. "...Clearly, it's a little grey area. I think I'm a little bit of an outlier when it comes to corner or safety, but all those highlights you showed, they're all safety highlights."
Ryan wouldn't be the first corner to move to safety. It's a move many Hall of Fame players have made to prolong their careers after losing a step. The would-be safety mentioned looking up to the likes of Charles Woodson, Rod Woodson, Ronde Barber and Champ Bailey as all-time players who made the transition.
"When I came in the game eight years ago, no doubt I was more of a perimeter corner," Ryan said. "I got drafted to do it. I started games for New England, tons of them, on the outside matching up with (DeAndre) Hopkins and Demaryius Thomas and guys like that. But Charles Woodson, Rod Woodson, Ronde Barber, Champ Bailey, those are my idols. Those are my guys I model my game after. I work on my pass-rushing. I work on playing the nickel position. I've matched up with running backs, I've matched up the top tight ends, and I've matched with some of the receivers. So how could you say he plays this one position?
"That's what Charles Woodson, when he won Defensive Player of the Year, I think he opened my eyes to that, like this dude can make an impact covering the (Alvin) Kamaras and the (Christian) McCaffreys, covering the (Travis) Kelces and the (Darren) Wallers and also covering the Michael Thomases and the top receivers. So, they moved that guy around. I don't know what he labeled himself as. I don't think labels really help Charles Woodson. I don't think labels really tell the true story of Logan Ryan. ... I think Dean Pees, a Hall of Fame defensive coordinator in my opinion, moved me around from week to week in order to make an impact in order to get the guy with the ball, tackle it, go punch it out or go intercept it. How can we put you in a position to make plays? And that's what I was able to do."
Marketing himself as a safety is smart business for Ryan, especially as he loses a step on the outside.
In a year in which the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to potentially upend entire position groups, players with versatility like Ryan should be coveted. The veteran defensive back finding a landing spot could come down to money. Rapoport reported back in the spring that Ryan was seeking $10 million per year on a new deal. It's uncertain whether that desire has come down in the months he's been without a team.
"I would sign today if the right opportunity came across the table," Ryan said.