A few days after the season ended for the Philadelphia Eagles, Nolan Carroll sat at his locker, packing and answering question’s about his impending free-agent future. Something that as of late, hasn’t been new to him, as he faces it for the fourth time in his career. After a solid start to the 2015 season, Carroll did enough to be asked back for another year despite coming off of a broken Fibula. 2016 saw a little more of a mixed review of the 29 year old, but with so many holes for the Birds, can they really afford to let him walk this off-season?
A lot has been made of the Philadelphia Eagles secondary, and what is needed to be done, to fix it. As we stand right now, the Eagles currently have more question’s than answers. One of those question’s, will the Eagles bring Nolan Carroll back for 2017?
Rumors have already started about veteran Leodis McKelvin and whether or not he will be a Cap casualty. Ron Brooks had some impressive moments, but is coming off of a serious injury which ended his 2016 season early. Jalen Mills had a solid rookie season and has earned the right to be considered a front runner for one of the 3 starting spots. Then there is Carroll, the 29-year old will be the first to tell you he had an up and down season. Here are a few Pro’s and Con’s, of bringing him back.
He adds solid depth at the very least
In 2016 Carroll had 55 tackles, 1 interception, 1 forced fumble and 11 pass deflections. He also gave up 56 catches on 89 targets for 752 yards and four touchdowns. Considered a “down” year from 2015, where he gave up 48 receptions on 74 targets for 612 yards and four interceptions.
The old saying goes ” Number’s don’t lie”, but the truth is they don’t always tell the whole story. In 2016, Carroll played 89% of defensive snaps, more than he has ever played in his career. Although he has given up a few big plays, Carroll has actually been solid in his play. At times, the former Dolphin has been the Eagles best corner and has flashed the skill set needed to succeed in this league.
Good in both man, and zone coverage and more then a willing tackler, Carroll has stitched a nice role as a solid option in the NFL. While the Eagles need upgrades, a complete overhaul shouldn’t be the answer for them and Carroll is at the very least a good veteran presence to help with the pending youth.
Led the league in pass interference
“Rollercoaster”, is the perfect way to describe Carroll’s play during 2016. In most games, he played soundly, both physical with WR’s and strong in coverage, but his play seemed to be overshadowed by one mistake or another.
Carroll was flagged 7 times for pass-interference in 2016 as he vowed to be more physical in coverage. Keeping to his word, it seemed like he was being flagged every week for pass interference. He seemed almost gun-shy at times due to the added attention he was receiving, which led to giving up a big play here and there.
With Jim Schwartz as the Defensive Coordinator, the Eagles will continue to lean on a more physical approach, meaning Carroll’s style of play, was more then likely what was asked for.
Despite this, the Eagles have led the league in big-plays surrendered, over the last few years. So helping opposing offenses with so many penalties, should be a huge concern moving forward.
Knows the system
When a team seems to need an overhaul at one or two positions, GM’s usually scale the roster, looking for a veteran to keep around. His play adds value as a player to bring back, but his knowledge of the system will serve him in the future.
The Eagles will address the CB position in free agency, but a complete changing of the guard would almost certainly set the franchise back again. As stated earlier, Carroll has been a solid starter and in a pinch he is someone the coaches trust. They have found a solid piece in rookie Jalen Mills, but with all the question marks coming this off-season, it would behoove the Eagles to go into the 2017 season with players who know the system.
The idea of the Eagles going into the season with a 2nd year starter, and a rookie on the other side, is scary. With it being his second year in the system, Carroll can serve as a leader in the CB room while also adding solid talent on the field.
A lot has been said about the Eagles and their “Band-Aid” approach over the years and how they are staying away from it this year. Despite Carroll serving as solid depth and a better than average starter, he will be 3o at the start of the season. While 30, is in no way old, in football years that’s usually when players begin to struggle with staying healthy.
2015 saw his season ended abruptly with a broken fibula and despite being healthy most of the year, he did have leg and concussion issues in 2016. Some would say, its just a part of the game, while others would point at his age, as an indicator of more issues to come.
With this said, some would call his resigning a “Band-Aid” move for the Birds’.
Mandatory Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports