The first wave of free agency has hit despite not officially starting until 4 PM today and the Eagles have come away with one marquee free agent so far: Haason Reddick. While his signing sent fans into a celebration, the rest of the NFL’s moves have made Eagles fans question what the team’s plans are at safety.
Some of the top names are off the board already. Jessie Bates III is returning to the Bengals on the franchise tag, Marcus Williams is going to Baltimore, Justin Reid is headed to the Chiefs along with nMarcus Maye going to the Saints, and Quandre Diggs staying in Seattle. Other names have signed but these are the most notable.
So with Marcus Epps and K’Von Wallace being the only safeties on the roster (McLeod and Harris are free agents), what are the Eagles thinking?
Probably converting another linebacker to safety… please no.
Who’s left? Where can the Eagles turn to improve the position? Let’s take a look:
The “Honey Badger” is entering his tenth season in the NFL and has three first team All-Pro’s, three Pro Bowls, and 26 INTs in his career. He’s a play-making safety and would have the type of impact Malcolm Jenkins had. He will be pricy, but if the Eagles want to win sooner than later they’ll pay the price and give Defensive Coordinator Jonathan Gannon another weapon.
Peppers is coming off an ACL tear but should be ready at the start of the season. He’s more of a smaller Landon Collins in that he’s not a great safety and is more of a linebacker.
Another 10+ year vet (going into 13th year), Kareem Jackson could provide a solid option at safety. He’s played 92% of the Broncos’ snaps the last four seasons despite showing some signs of age in his ability. He still has the skillset to be effective in Gannon’s two high scheme.
Coming off a 101 tackle season for the Cowboys, Kearse’s coverage is ehhhhhhhhhhhh but he has the size and speed to stay with bigger tight ends. While the tight ends on the 2022 schedule aren’t world beaters, his ability can erase some of those shorter passes that have haunted the Eagles for years.
Edmunds might be the one that comes. He’s young (25) and has had one really good year so far in his career. Lucky for him, that year came in 2021. His youth and the projection that he’s showing in becoming one of the better coverage safeties can land him a nice deal and could land the Eagles an up and coming star at the position.
The NFL Draft
The well known names are Kyle Hamilton, Jaquan Brisker, Daxton Hill, & Jalen Pitre. However, the draft’s safety class is very deep. Defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon attended Georgia’s Pro Day where safety Lewis Cine performed. Nick Cross out of Maryland is a very intriguing option at the free safety position and has drawn comparisons to Marcus Maye. Verone McKinley III played corner and safety at Oregon and shows extremely good insticts in the passing game.
With three first round picks, the Eagles can afford taking a big swing at a marquee veteran on another team. If Pittsburgh is rebuilding (I don’t think they are), could Minkah Fitzpatrick be had? What about the Saints? If they don’t land Deshaun Watson, could Chauncy Gardner-Johnson be available? Could Howie take a huge swing and try to land Vikings’ Harrison Smith and reunite him with Jonathan Gannon?
The Eagles have plenty of ammunition, whether it’s cap space or draft picks, to make something happen at one of the most important positions on the team. There’s no reason to panic… yet.
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