The Philadelphia Eagles have accomplished a ton this offseason regarding filling the team’s biggest holes and doing so extremely well with limited resources in the salary cap.
Majority of the deals the team has signed free agents to such as Alshon Jeffery, Patrick Robinson, Chance Warmack and Torrey Smith, are really ‘prove it’ structured contracts. The Eagles could walk away from each of these players easily after the 2017 season if they don’t perform up to their expectations.
There’s another soon-to-be free agent in Jason McCourty that the Eagles should consider the same method with in regards to a ‘prove it’ type of contract.
The Titans haven’t officially released McCourty yet, even though the announcement has reportedly expected to be taken place tomorrow, but his name is already garnering interest around the league.
**Update, McCourty was released by the Titans just moments ago.**
— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) April 17, 2017
According to Jason Cole of Bleacher Report, McCourty is expected to have a number of suitors once he’s officially available to be signed. In fact, Cole mentions that several of teams have already inquired about him. The Eagles should be one of those teams as well.
The Titans did McCourty a disservice by releasing him this late into the offseason, especially with the NFL Draft so close. His market, mostly his salary offers, won’t be as great as what they could’ve been at the beginning of free agency because most teams have filled their needs and spent as much as they’ve liked to already this offseason.
This leads me to my next point in terms of salary for signing McCourty. It’s completely obvious the Eagles aren’t currently in a great cap situation. According to spotrac.com the team has $6.6 million in salary cap space, however, this still doesn’t take them out of being a possible suitor for McCourty.
New England Patriots beat writer for ESPN Mike Reiss has reported that a source has told him to expect McCourty to receive a deal similar to what Leon Hall signed late in the 2016 offseason which was one-year and was totaled at $2 million.
This report by Reiss makes a lot of sense, even though he personally expects McCourty to get somewhat of a bit better of a deal due to the fact he’s three years younger than Hall. Nonetheless, McCourty should and even could demand just a one-year deal. He could go to a new team, play well and restore his market value in hopes of returning to the salary he was accustomed to in Tennessee (which was about $7 million per year), and cash in during the 2018 offseason when the market is replenished unlike it is currently.
The Eagles could be the team that helps him restore his market value by basically guaranteeing him a starting job. The Eagles still don’t have clear cut starters at the outside cornerback position besides 2016 seventh-round pick Jalen Mills.
Of course the team will most likely add to the cornerback group during the draft, but McCourty poses as an immediate starter and someone with experience covering team’s No. 1 wide receivers. I’ve always said rookie quarterbacks have the toughest transition coming into the league, but rookie cornerbacks are right behind them and history proves this.
McCourty is only a season removed from a stellar 2015 campaign where he only missed two tackles the entire season, which was tied for best in the NFL with Vontae Davis. His sure tackling and physicality would be a welcomed addition in Jim Schwartz’s scheme.
McCourty might wait to sign with a team who doesn’t fill their cornerback need well during the NFL Draft since it’s so close, but even if the Eagles do fill their need they should still bring in McCourty as the stop-gap starter and give their drafted corner or corners time to develop.
That was the team’s same formula with Lito Sheppard and Sheldon Brown when the team drafted them respectively in the first and second rounds of the 2002 NFL Draft while having starters in place in Troy Vincent and Bobby Taylor. McCourty isn’t close to the same caliber of player as those two, but neither lasted long with the team after those picks and McCourty most likely won’t either. It’s just giving them time to adjust to the NFL and ease into starting jobs rather than forcing them into action immediately and risk killing their confidence. You know, like what has happened with Nelson Agholor!
Listen, I know Robinson was expected to be this type of signing, but if you follow his career closely and do some research on him, he’s really just a pure nickel cornerback who gets asked to play on the outside and proves he’s overmatched (ex: his New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts tenures). Ron Brooks might never be the same after his devastating season-ending injury, so Robinson in the nickel might work out well for the 2017 Eagles, but the outside cornerback spots are still the team’s biggest weakness.
McCourty at least lets you breathe a little bit heading into 2017, gives your rookie corners time to adjust to the NFL instead of throwing them into the fire right away, and now it has been reported that his cost won’t be anything the Eagles can’t handle. It’s a very, very low-risk/high reward signing that the team should look into immediately after his release.
Mandatory Photo Credits: Russell Roberts/TitansInsider