During this erratic Eagles off-season the phrase that has been thrown around a lot is ” Dream Team”. Dream Team was the moniker attached to the 2011 Eagles who went on a massive free agency acquiring following the lockout. Probably the biggest name attached to Dream Team was superstar Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha. He was a great player in a mismatched scheme who had a solid performance but nothing to write home about. The Eagles ultimately let Nnamdi go two years later where he played one more year season with the 49ers and then retired after. Then three years later Chip Kelly made what some people would consider a similar move in acquiring Byron Maxwell on a six-year $63 Million contract. Is Chip making the same mistake as Andy Reid three years earlier?
I would say no without any hesitation. The Eagles went 10-6 and missed the playoffs which is a very rare occurrence and was completely frustrating for fans. While the Eagles honestly were lucky to pull out that record with a decimated line, a sporadically effective ” elite” running back, and a back up QB for half the season; it all would’ve worked out had it not been for the secondary who gave up big play after big play. Eagles were second worst in the league in passing yards allowed in 2014. After letting go of Cary Williams and letting Bradley Fletcher walk in free agency, new life into the secondary was needed.
Enter Byron Maxwell. The major knock against Byron Maxwell is that he was the weakest member of the Legion of Boom and his teammates in the secondary helped him perform better. Part of this is true and part of it isn’t. Having two pro-bowl safeties to cover you up top for any mistakes is extremely helpful. That really only helps Byron Maxwell with yards allowed. Not Touchdowns allowed and catches allowed, which he’s ranked up there with Patrick Peterson and yes Richard Sherman.
Speaking of Richard Sherman, playing across from him does not help and probably cancels out the benefit of having good safety help over top. Sherman plays one side and teams will consistently match up their WR1 away from Sherman’s side. Also since he’s so good Quarterbacks will consciously not throw to his side meaning Maxwell gets more targets. Seeing as he wasn’t a weak spot in what is the best secondary in the league and maybe of the decade, he belongs in the same conversation as Sherman seeing as he got his runoff of targets.
The other knock is the contract itself. $63 million for six years and $22 Million Guaranteed. First off i’ve never understand why anybody cares about how much money a contract is outside of Guaranteed money. Does the $60 million really matter i’d be shocked if he plays out the contract all the way and if he does it’s money well spent because it meant that he was worth the money. Secondly his money is only really guaranteed for two years. Worst case scenario he’s cut after two years and then we have one of the three cornerbacks we drafted this year take his place. The major strike down of any real complaints is who he’s replacing.
Cary Williams was paid roughly $6 million a year, and he was a sporadic player. Byron Maxwell won’t be a lockdown corner by any means but he’ll be an upgrade, and was necessary spending. It will take time to tell if Byron Maxwell will be truly worth the money, it’s impossible to say before the season starts. But he has potential to be a really good corner and complete the final piece the eagles defense needs to be as scary as the offense is. The front seven is great the back four just needs to be as good and then the Eagles should be contenders. As of right now i don’t see why an eagles fan shouldn’t be at least cautiously optimistic.
Written by Anthony Donovan Stokes