The Philadelphia Eagles surrendered a franchise-record 33 touchdown passes in 2012. Safeties Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman were repeatedly torched, and there’s no quality backup waiting in the wings.
One of Chip Kelly’s first moves as head coach should be to give free-agent safety Dashon Goldson a call. The San Francisco 49ers have made it clear they’re not interested in re-signing Goldson, per insider Adam Schefter.
Goldson turned down the franchise tag from the Niners, which would have been the second straight year he received a one-year tender. He’s reportedly seeking $8 million per year, which is probably about what he will get.
Two years ago, safety Eric Weddle got a five-year, $40 million contract. That was when Weddle was 26 years old (Goldson is 28). Weddle had never made a Pro Bowl, though, and Goldson has made two straight.
The demand for a good safety could lead Goldson to get an even larger deal than Weddle. The Eagles have tried and failed with numerous safeties since allowing Brian Dawkins and Quintin Mikell to walk in free agency.
Draftees like Macho Harris, Jaiquawn Jarrett and Allen have flopped. Veterans like Marlin Jackson and O.J. Atogwe haven’t been much better. Considering the Eagles may also lose corners Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, they need all the help they can get.
Goldson is just 28 years old. He’s started 62 of the last 64 games since 2009. Goldson has made two Pro Bowl teams and earned a First-Team AP All-Pro selection. He’s recorded 14 interceptions over the past four seasons, tied for the third most in the league. He’s also defended 31 passes and recorded three fumble recoveries during that span. And the Eagles did just hire Tom Gamble, the former VP of player personnel from San Francisco.
Goldson makes his mark as a cover safety. Last year, he allowed a 44.8 passer rating on the 35 targets his way. He allowed one touchdown and recorded three interceptions. Goldson’s passer rating allowed was the ninth best among 88 safeties that qualified.
Obviously, the front seven of the Niners has had a significant impact on Goldson’s overall play. He’s not going to have Patrick Willis, Justin Smith and Aldon Smith playing in front of him in Philadelphia. But he’s a good enough player that he should still continue his success. It’s not as if Trent Cole, Fletcher Cox and DeMeco Ryans are scrubs.
If the Eagles don’t sign Goldson, there are definitely other options. Kenny Vaccaro and Matt Elam are the two best safeties in the draft. Vaccaro will likely be gone by the Eagles’ 36th overall pick. Elam may or may not be around.
The free-agent class is relatively strong as well. Ed Reed is a hot commodity, although he’s on the verge of retiring every year, and he won’t want to come to a team that was 4-12 last year. William Moore is coming off a Pro Bowl campaign and would be a viable option. Jairus Byrd was franchised by Buffalo. Louis Delmas is a good player, too, although he missed half of 2012 due to injury.
The Eagles tried the free-agent game in 2011 and failed. That year, they signed Vince Young, Ronnie Brown, Steve Smith, Cullen Jenkins, Nnamdi Asomugha and traded for DRC. None of those players are expected to be on the roster next year.
But that doesn’t mean the Eagles can’t sign any free agents this offseason. Free agency starts Tuesday, Mar. 12. Factoring in the need the team has for safeties, it’s imperative Philadelphia makes an offer to Goldson.