Many of our writers have already looked over the past issues when it comes to the Philadelphia Eagles with cornerbacks. Whether it is their inability to draft truly good corners or their inability to develop them- the Eagles draft day strategy pails in comparison to their awful free agent acquisitions at the corner position.
In reality, the Eagles have signed 11 free agent corners in the last 20 years. Two worked out. The other seven didn’t. Let’s take a look back on the list of disappointment.
Asante Samuel – (2008-12) Stats: 23 INT’s, 3x Pro-Bowler Samuel was one of the best free-agent signings of the last few decades for the Eagles. Joining an Eagles team who, at the time, was at the bottom of turnovers forced, Samuel helped the defense rise to the 3rd best defense in the NFL in 2008. When Jim Johnson passed away and Brian Dawkins left, Samuel did everything he could to keep the secondary afloat.
Patrick Robinson – (2017) Stats: 4 INT’s, 2017 2nd Team All-Pro by PFF Robinson was one of many free-agent signings that made the Super Bowl-winning roster what it was in 2017. His ability to play in the slot and lock down some of the premier slot receivers made him a great addition to an underrated defense. Oh, and there was also this…
Just to put this out- when only two of 11 free agent acquisitions work out in the last 20 years- it shows just how many issues this franchise has had at the CB position.
Leodis McKelvin (2016)- 2 INT’s McKelvin signed with the Eagles when Jim Schwartz was hired as Defensive Coordinator in 2016. While many thought McKelvin would be a good fit in the Schwartz defensive scheme. Per Pro Football Focus (PFF)- McKelvin graded out an average of 62.2, but gave up over 40 catches which was good enough for 52nd amongst all corners. He only lasted a year, and it wasn’t the best, but it certainly was better than some on this list.
Ron Brooks (2016) – 5 Starts Very similar to McKelvin, Brooks was signed with the Eagles to pair him with Jim Schwartz. Brooks again, wasn’t the worst, but he didn’t last more than a season with Philadelphia.
Nolan Carroll (2014-16) – 11 starts Carroll was an interesting case. He signed a two-year deal worth only $5 million. He started in only 11 games in his Eagles tenure. He did have some success but clearly he was not what the team desperately needed toward the end of the Chip Kelly era.
These signings weren’t horrendous free agent signings considering some of the others on this list. The issue comes with the fact that both players only lasted a year. A free agent signing needs to be available for many years in a productive role, OR is so productive in one season that they outperform their own contract. That’s enough of the stalling….let’s get to the ugly side of this list.
Nnamdi Asomugha- (2011-2013) Asomugha was the crown jewel of a 2011 free-agent class that saw the Eagles go from young division winners, to projected Super Bowl contenders. That lasted all of a year. Asomugha signed a five year, $60 milion deal with Philadelphia. The problem was Asomugha was a man-press corner in a defense that forced the corners to play straight zone. Asomugha was left to dry in a scheme that did not fit his talents and clearly lost a step as he was on the wrong side of 30. He will go down as one of the most overpriced failures a team has made in free agency.
Cary Williams (2013-14) Williams was one of the many players who got off on the wrong foot with Chip Kelly. He was very vocal about how the “fastbreak” offense was tiring out his defense. Williams started all 32 games that the team played but ultimately was part of the toxic culture that had plagued the roster during the Kelly era.
Byron Maxwell (2015) Thought off as the other lockdown corner opposite of Richard Sherman during the Legion of Boom’s reign in the early 2010’s, Maxwell signed a six year- $63 million dollar deal with the Eagles. Maxwell got through his first year in Philly and that was it. He was released once Howie Roseman was given back GM power and is now only known as the guy who looked lost on opening day.
Bradley Fletcher (2013-14) Fletcher was expected to be paired with Cary Williams during the early days of the Kelly era. Plain and simple, he might have been the worst of the Eagles corners on this free agent list. Repeatedly getting picked on by opposing QB’s, Fletcher was clearly outmatched. He didn’t have the speed or strength to line up in zone or man coverage. Need proof? Look no further than what Dez Bryant did to him in 2014:
The Eagles have hit on only two of 11 acquisitions at the cornerback position since 2000. With the team being linked to free-agent players like Byron Jones and Chris Harris, fans of the team will be clearly cautious at openly going after certain players. The key, as with any signing, is to make sure they not only fit the culture (Cough Orlando Scandrick) but also that they fit the scheme. Asomugha and Maxwell did not fit the schemes that the Eagles had at the time. Robinson and Samuel absolutely did. Roseman and the Eagles need to fix several issues on the roster, corner being one of them, but they have to be very careful about what kind of player they want to truly go after.