By Dylan MacKinnon
Despite the Eagles making the playoffs, there is still a lot of work to do this off season. Especially on the defense. Luckily for them they have a ton of cap space, and three first round picks. But where should they invest those assets. Today, I will look at the Safety position. An area many Eagles have been desperate to have another star at ever since Joe Banner let Brian Dawkins walk in free agency.
What They Have
The answer here is not very much. Their main safeties this season were Rodney McLeod and Anthony Harris. McLeod played very well, but he is a 31 year old free agent with a injury history. They may bring him back, but they may also decide they do not want to invest in his uncertain future. Harris on the other hand did not play well, is also a free agent, and will be 32. Harris is not likely to be back. The Eagles will have at least one new starting safety next season, if not two. Marcus Epps also played a major role as the primary backup at Safety. He is the one safety with any real experience currently on the roster.
As it stands, there are three other Safeties on the roster in 2022. K’Von Wallace, Jacoby Stevens, and Jared Mayden. The 3 have 4 starts between them and under 500 snaps on defense. Relying on any of them to be starters would be less than ideal. So there is a chance that the only safety capable of being a starter the Eagles will have before free agency period is Marcus Epps. And while Epps played well in his role, if he is your best Safety the Eagles may be in trouble.
Would They Invest heavily in a Safety?
Similar to Linebacker, Safety has not been a position the Eagles invest heavy capital in. Whether it is with draft picks or cap space. At least not first round picks. In fact the Eagles have never spent a first round pick on a Safety. They have however taken 5 safeties on day 2 of the draft since 2000.
In terms of free agents, they did go out and sign Malcom Jenkins and Rodney McLeod at different times. But despite the success those players had here, they were not the big names on the safety market at that time, and did not carry significant cap hits in their time with the Eagles. They were instead smart signings that gave the Eagles good players on team friendly deals. So history would suggest that the Eagles are not likely to make a big splash at safety. But they may instead make an under the radar smart move, whatever that may be.
What are their Options?
As we said the Eagles have never spent a first round pick on a Safety. If they want to change that, some names to watch are Kyle Hamilton from Notre Dame and JaQuan Brisker from Penn State. Hamilton however is likely to be off the board before the Eagles pick though. Some names to watch that could even be there on Day 2 of the draft are Lewis Cine of Georgia and Daxton Hill from Michigan, though its also possible they go day 1. They could also try to take a guy later in the draft such as Kerby Joseph from Illinois or Brad Hawkins from Michigan.
If they instead go via Free Agency, there are a decent amount of options this offseason. There are big names like Marcus Williams, Tyrann Mathieu, and Quandre Diggs. Additionally there are names like Marcus Maye, Jordan Whitehead, and Jayron Kearse who could be more affordable. I would expect the Eagles to make some move in free agency at Safety. but don’t expect it to be a real big name. They will target someone they can sign to a reasonable deal who can provide quality snaps. Last week Connor Thomas went more in depth with the Eagles options in free agency at Safety, and you can read what he wrote here.
Safety is clearly a need. It needs to be addressed. But, given all the needs they have, there is going to be one area they will have to go somewhat cheap, Safety seems like a good bet to be the area they try to get away with going cheap at. Spend a day 2 or 3 pick on it, and make one move in free agency for a decent starter that wont break the bank. They may decide to make a big move here. It would certainly make fans happy to have a big name, big hitting safety again. But it just feels like a position they don’t value as much. They wouldn’t make a deal with Malcom Jenkins who was a team leader, so why would they now break the bank for a guy they do not even have a relationship with?
We will see what their game plan at Safety is. They need to do something, it is just a matter of what that something will be.