Eagles free agency: bargain-bin cornerbacks the team should target

NFL: NOV 12 Colts at Titans
NASHVILLE, TN – NOVEMBER 12: Indianapolis Colts Defensive End Cassius Marsh (55) congradulates Indianapolis Colts Cornerback T.J. Carrie (38) on his touchdown off the blocked punt in game action during a NFL game between the Indianapolis Colts and the Tennessee Titans on November 12, 2020 at LP Field in Nashville TN.(Photo by Jeffrey Brown/Icon Sportswire)

The opening week of free agency was filled with surprises. The Philadelphia Eagles have around $3M in cap space after snagging former Vikings Safety Anthony Harris but still have a plethora of roster holes to fill.

One of the deepest is the need for an outside cornerback and options are being snatched from their clutches as the days go by. Adoree’ Jackson is now a New York Giant and the Packers decided to pull the trigger on retaining Kevin King. Without a lot of financial firepower, it’s time to look at five cheap and cheerful options that could bolster the secondary.

T.J. Carrie

Value is the name of the game here. Carrie is coming off of a one-year prove-it deal with the Colts worth $1M and he more than lived up to the minimal price tag. He only played in 38% of snaps but picked off a pair of passes (batting down 8 more), rallied to 25 tackles, and allowed a 57.5% completion percentage when targeted. He also played in 57% of special teams snaps, which is always a juicy bonus.

The Eagles have let both Cre’Von LeBlanc and Nickell Robey-Coleman walk this offseason and if they wanted to add an insurance policy at the nickel spot, a corner with a connection to new defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon who could be available on an extremely cheap deal is always worth looking at.

Fabian Moreau

Moreau could be a really interesting option here. The former third-round pick has some impressive wheels under him, clocking a 4.35 40-yard dash time before being drafted in the third round back in 2017. He’s made his paydirt in the slot up to this point, but he has the size and traits to hold his own outside.

He has six career interceptions on 122 targets over the last three years and while only playing in 15% of snaps last year, allowed a 54.5% completion rate on 11 balls thrown his way and an 79.9 passer rating.

If the Eagles do want someone to take away those speedy receiving threats within the NFC East, Moreau has enough about him to at least throw his hat into the mix. It’s likely that rookie reinforcements are on the way, but this would provide Moreau with an opportunity to play his way to a bigger contract in 2022 if he can use his experience to lock down a starting CB2 role.

Rasul Douglas

A former Eagles draft pick who never really found solace under Jim Schwartz might have a much better chance in a system that actually provides help over the top. After being cut by Philadelphia, the West Virginia product ventured to Carolina where he would go on to start in 11 games, proving that he does have what it takes to be a serviceable starter.

Douglas grew as a firm tackler during his time in Philadelphia but his strengths were always found around the ball. That didn’t change when he became a Panther, recording 9 passes defensed in 2020, ranking second on the team in that metric.

He may not have the preferred speed, but Douglas has the length and an eye for the ball that this defense could really benefit from. After showing he can stand his ground in a cover-2 scheme, it would be very interesting to see if Jonathan Gannon could get the most out of the 26-year-old.

Quinton Dunbar

Quinton Dunbar would be a low-risk, high-reward play for the Eagles. After an impressive 2019 season in Washington, he was traded to the Seahawks where his season was cut short due to a knee injury. In the six games that preceded that, he allowed a 56.4% completion percentage but gave up 4 touchdowns and a 111 passer rating when targeted.

The 6’2 veteran has the size and ball-production that the Eagles would covet opposite Darius Slay and a down-year in Seattle that was cut short may just give the Eagles to pull him back to the NFC East on a cheap deal. In an ideal world, this would be the kind of move pulled off that correlates directly with the drafting of a future CB one in the early rounds.

E.J Gaines

After opting out of the 2020 season, the 29-year-old is presumably back on the market at a substantial discount.

He was originally drafted by the Rams in 2014 where he overlapped with none other than current Eagles DB Coach Dennard Wilson. He amassed 7 passes defensed under him in 2016 along with 56 tackles. After signing with the Bills in 2017, he became a starter almost instantly, recording 59 tackles and 9 passes defended in his first season.

Injuries have been the main thing holding Gaines back. He moved to Cleveland ahead of the 2019 season but ended up on IR before the season even started due to a groin injury. Prior to opting out, he was on a one-year deal worth $910k. If he’s close to full health after two seasons out of the game, Gaines could be a brilliant bargain-bucket signing with high upside. A lot can change in that time and he may not be the player he once was or even hold a desire to come back, but if he does, the Eagles should come knocking.

Photo by Jeffrey Brown/Icon Sportswire