We all know the narrative. The Eagles are sorely lacking cornerback depth and there just so happens to be an elite talent in Jalen Ramsey being dangled gently above Howie Roseman’s grasp. A Jags win at the weekend didn’t tilt the asking price in favor of the Eagles, and neither did two new injuries in the secondary for the Birds.
But what if the Eagles found a way to get by? Darby, Jones, and Maddox (knock on wood) should all play again this season and Cre’Von LeBlanc can be activated off IR from week 8. It’s not as if all of the above are going to miss the entire year and we’re down to Rasul Douglas and ‘King’ Craig James.
What went massively unnoticed in Thursday’s win was how the Eagles deployed their Safeties. Rodney Mcleod played over the top, outside, in the nickel, and in the box, as opposed to roaming around as we’re accustomed to seeing.
In fact, Jenkins and McLeod both played 100% of defensive snaps, while Sendejo played in 80% (a near 40% spike) and the recently-traded Cyprien in 21%. The Eagles are seemingly trying to bridge their versatile depth at safety with a clear need for reliability at corner, and that might just be enough to drive them away from an ever-increasing asking price for Jalen Ramsey.
The re-signing of Orlando Scandrick is an important one, but even if they do go into week 5 without trading the farm for a blockbuster name, the Eagles need to make some kind of move. With that in mind, here are five ‘cheap and cheerful’ free agents who could patch a wounded secondary while the scars heal.
Now 36-years old, Grimes is at the tail end of his career, but after his time with the Bucs came to an end, the four-time Pro Bowler made it clear that he had no plans to retire.
Grimes racked up 48 tackles, one forced fumble and six passes defensed in 13 games last year, but went without an interception for the first time since 2012. But believe it or not, he ranks in total passes broken up since 2016 (41).
He may not be the shutdown corner he once was, but the Eagles wouldn’t need him to be. Grimes is more experienced than just about anyone at this stage and the Eagles, if they refuse to trade for a much younger player with the intent of keeping him around for the long-run, then that will be invaluable.
In what is now a very young secondary headlined by a third-year cornerback and a flurry of undrafted underdogs, for the time being, the mentorship of Brent Grimes could be just enough to tide the unit over until such time as the key names return.
Munnerlyn has endured a rollercoaster career, but the former seventh-round pick is still without a team…which is something that still feels strange saying out loud.
In a whopping 154 games since being drafted in 2009, Munnerlyn has 522 tackles, 12 picks, 64 pass breakups, and 6 forced fumbles.
Munnerlyn was originally a seventh-round pick by Carolina in the 2009 NFL draft. He spent the first five years of his career playing for the Panthers until he joined the Minnesota Vikings in 2014. After three seasons there, he returned to Carolina, where he resumed his slot cornerback role from 2017-2018.
In all, he’s played 154 games, posting 12 interceptions, 64 pass breakups, six forced fumbles, and 522 combined tackles. What’s interesting here is although he’s not the most appealing corner on the marker, the slot savant recorded 9 passes defensed last year, the most since his 2013 season.
Bringing Munnerlyn in wouldn’t make too much sense right now unless the Eagles felt comfortable pushing him outside, as he has made his living working out of the nickel, where the team have just brought in Orlando Scandrick.
But would it be a worthwhile upgrade over Craig James? That’s a debate for the talent evaluation team to discuss…
Rice originally caught on with the Eagles as a UDFA back in 2015 but was released during the final roster cuts. Since then, the 6’0, 185 lbs, corner has carved out quite a nice career, bouncing to several teams since that day.
In 2018, Rice started the year as a key special teams cog for Cleveland, playing in 61% of snaps through the opening half of the season. In his first taste of defensive action, he recorded an interception and a pass breakup against the Chiefs but would be waived later that week.
Buffalo were quick to snatch him up and again, special teams were the name of the game. Rice amassed 5 total tackles on special teams last year, two with the Bills, and three with the Browns.
The Eagles recently lost LB LJ Fort (2 special teams tackles on the year) and while playing different roles, that willingness to come in and hustle on Fipp’s unit may give him some slight upside. There will already be some extensive homework on him and while he may not be someone who will come in and start outside, he could at least take the pressure off of someone like CB Ryan Lewis, who recently signed to the practice squad.
Continued on the page below.
Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports