NFL training camp is just around the corner. For the Philadelphia Eagles, a promising off-season has given way to the eyes of the fanbase locking onto training camp. Several players will go into this Summer knowing it’s very much all-or-nothing. Today we look at those among the offensive and defensive lines that could be looking at their final years in Philadelphia.
Marcus Epps is the obvious choice in the secondary of a player needing a good year. The 26 year old is in the final year of his contract with the Eagles, and will have every opportunity to be the starter at the safety position following Rodney McLeod’s departure.
Epps played in 16 games last season and was an important piece to a defense that was an above average unit statistically. 62 total tackles and one interception recorded are very solid numbers for a player that simply didn’t play as much as other starters.
The former sixth-round selection out of Minnesota was graded an elite 72.8 grade by Pro Football Focus. While everyone in the Eagles secondary has been hyping up Epps this season as the starter at safety, the 2022 season will be a huge year to determine if Marcus Epps stays in Philadelphia, or walks.
Zech McPhearson is entering his second season in the NFL, and played only sparingly last season. So why is this year a make or break season for the 4th round selection?
It really is simple. The Eagles brought in James Bradberry to pair with Darius Slay. While that combination is arguably the top corner duo in football, the depth behind either corner is a major question mark.
McPhearson wasn’t bad in the small spots he was thrown in, but it was clear he was a project when he came out of college at Texas Tech. Zech McPhearson’s development will be a major question going into year two. A strong season from him could mean the Eagles give him a chance to start in 2023, but a rough season could mean the team is once again looking for a cornerback in free agency or the draft.
Let me preface this by saying I have loved what Darius Slay has done for Philadelphia. Slay was traded for just a measly third round pick but has been one of the top corners the Eagles have had in recent memory. After an All-Pro selection, pro-bowl selection while also helping the secondary tighten up late in the 2022 season to make the playoffs, Darius Slay has been everything Eagles’ fans have hoped for in a lockdown corner.
This is solely to do with his age and contract. Slay’s final year in Philadelphia is set for 2023 and has a dead cap hit of over $21 million if the team were to move in a different direction.
The Eagles have clearly not been afraid of eating up dead cap money as we’ve witness them do over the last two years. While Slay has been an excellent corner in Philadelphia, he’s going to be 32 at the end of the 2022 season. If Slay shows any sign of slowing down, it could mean the Eagles will look for ways to dump the older corner or potentially look to restructure his contract.
Darius Slay has been a force in Philadelphia but he needs to continue to play at a high level at his age and contract status.
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