After a few weeks of unrest surrounding the cornerback corps, the Birds have made a big move. The Eagles announced earlier today that they have traded Jordan Matthews to the Buffalo Bills in exchange for Ronald Darby, giving up a third-round pick in next year’s draft. The news is shocking and of course carries numerous knock-on effects. Here’s just a few takeaways from the shattering move.
If last night’s preseason game showed us one thing, it’s that the Eagles aren’t exactly flooded with starting talent at cornerback. Darby is an instant upgrade at the position. In his first two NFL seasons after being drafted in the second round, Darby started 29 games for the Bills and registered 137 tackles, 2 interceptions and 33 passes defensed. He started straight out of the gate as a rookie, amassing 2 picks and 21 passes defensed along the way. It’s safe to say that the 23-year old corner has a huge upside and brings a lot of production and potential to a position in dire need.
It’s all on Agholor:
The Eagles reported battle in the slot has already come to pass, with the team placing all their chips on Nelson Agholor to carry slot duties. While Agholor should still thrive in the position that many have pined to see him start in since his dominant USC days, but it means that it’s now do-or-die. Agholor has had a phenomenal offseason so far and if he can perform in the slot as he has in camp…then the move is really a no brainer for the Eagles, who could be getting more production for less and without the immediate concern of their starting wideout entering free agency.
What does this mean for Patrick Robinson?
Well, the future doesn’t exactly look bright for the former Colt who has struggled at every offseason hurdle so far. Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby could be a match made in heaven on the outside and the nature of Robinson’s deal may either entice the Eagles to keep him around for cheap depth/veteran presence, or potentially cut him to allow another young corner to develop under Jim Schwartz.
Are the Eagles a contender?
It’s hard to not view them as such. A franchise quarterback with a strong group of wide receivers and even stronger offensive line. A relentless pass rush, some elite level linebackers and now a cornerback corps that finally has a starter who can develop as time goes by. The cornerbacks were labelled as the Eagles biggest weakness…it’s really difficult to view the position as a major setback now.
This is where things get even more exciting. Sidney Jones anyone? Jalen Mills in the slot, with Jones and Darby starting outside? That sounds like one very dangerous cornerback group if you ask me…and one that also allows a currently inconsistent Rasul Douglas to hone his craft behind the starters.
To put it simply, this is a big get for the Eagles. A starting caliber corner who is on the rise as opposed to declining vastly outweighs the compensatory pick they’d receive by letting him walk. The Eagles will not be relying on slot production as much, allowing Agholor to still fly under the radar…but a dire position of need has been upgraded as well as some extra draft capital. It’s a no brainer for the Eagles but…
…An ugly goodbye:
To put it simply, this isn’t the goodbye Jordan Matthews wanted. As he entered his contract year, expectations were high and Matthews was preparing for a championship run with his franchise quarterback. Coming off of a year in which he received for 804 yards and 3 touchdowns, many wondered whether the team would work on an extension with their former 2nd round pick. The extension never came. Even though Matthews was very much carrying the unit through a transitional period with 412 more yards than the next closest receiver…the team didn’t have the funds nor the intent to keep Matthews around. Maybe it was just that Matthews was a Chip Kelly era remnant, or maybe it was that the team were so confident in Agholor that they wanted to speed up the process…either way, it’s just not the goodbye that one of the hardest working guys in that locker room deserves.
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