Football Free Safety

Football Free Safety

One of the many positions in a football defensive scheme is the free safety, but for those who don’t know, what exactly is a free safety, and what is the difference between a free safety and a regular safety, or between a free safety and a strong safety? Read on to learn all about the free safety, including their skills, their responsibilities, and a list of notable free safeties in NFL history!

Football Free Safety

The free safety (FS) in football is a secondary defensive player positioned in the defensive backfield. The free safety differs from the strong safety because free safeties stand on the weak side of the field. Both positions have similar tasks, but the role they play on defense really depends on the scheme. 

In general, safeties will line up 15 yards from the line of scrimmage. The free safety has the job of tackling the ball carrier on both passing plays and running plays if they break through the defensive line. In a sense, they are the last line of defense. The free safety is tasked with stopping big plays before they break for an even bigger one. 

While a strong safety is focused on preventing the run, a free safety is more of a pass-minded defender. This player must be able to see the entire play and make a break on the ball when it is necessary. 

Free Safety Skills and Responsibilities

In order to be a successful free safety, there are several traits you must possess. For one, the free safety has to have great vision and awareness. Because they are behind the defense, they are able to see the whole play unfold. A good free safety will communicate with his defense everything that he sees on the field. 

Free safeties must also be good tacklers. The free safety is the last line of defense, so they must halt any play that is ready to break free for a big gain. One missed tackle could lead to a touchdown

Usually, the safety must be deeper than the deepest offensive player, so this means they must have a decent amount of speed. This is especially true at some of the upper levels, where wide receivers are not only great at catching but also incredibly fast. 

Lastly, in order to be a great free safety, one must have knowledge of various offensive schemes. Free safeties need to understand what an offense is trying to do and get the rest of the secondary in a position where they can prevent any positive yardage. 

Notable Free Safeties

Below is a list of notable free safeties in NFL history:

Darren SharperGreen Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints
Ed Reed Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texans, New York Jets
Ronnie LottSan Francisco 49ers, Oakland Raiders (now Los Angeles Raiders), New York Jets, Kansas City Chiefs
Willie WoodGreen Bay Packers
Paul KrauseWashington Redskins (now Washington Commanders), Minnesota Vikings


What is the FS football position?

The FS football position is the free safety. The free safety (FS) is one of the two types of safety (S), with the other category being strong safety (SS). Some statistics and fantasy rosters make the distinction between FS and SS, but sometimes safeties from both categories are simply labeled S.

What is the difference between a free safety and a strong safety?

The difference between a free safety and a strong safety is that a free safety plays on the weak side of the field, whereas a strong safety plays on the strong side of the field, giving the position its name. Free safeties are the last line of defense against a high-impact running or passing play, so the position requires equal amounts of speed and strength. Strong safeties are more relied upon to cover gaps; as a result, they are usually larger than free safeties. In schemes that utilize only one safety that player is typically a free safety

What is the difference between the safety position and a safety in football?

In football, the word “safety” can have various meanings, and it can sometimes be confusing as to what they mean. The word “safety” can refer to both a defensive position in football and a type of scoring play. The safety position refers to a defensive player who is located in the backfield, behind the defensive line, and is tasked with stopping runs and passes by the offense. These types of players can also be referred to by the more specific terms “free safety” and “strong safety.” On the other hand, a safety in football can also refer to a scoring play where the defense tackles an offensive player who has the football in their own end zone, scoring two points for their team. The safety position and the safety scoring play are unrelated to each other.