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“Big” Moves Limited to Safety
Aside from maybe kicker, the only position where I see a new starter coming in is at safety.
The Eagles are set on offense, and most of the areas they would like to upgrade on defense—specifically outside linebacker and cornerback—are currently filled by veterans with big contracts, which the front office will attempt to replace through the draft.
Jairus Byrd Does Not Sign with Eagles
There’s little doubt Byrd would be a perfect fit. He’ll only be 28 this year, is familiar with head coach Chip Kelly’s philosophies from their time together at Oregon and is a three-time All-Pro safety to boot.
I just don’t get the sense the Eagles are willing to pay upward of $9 million per year for Byrd. Is he actually worth that? To put it another way, would he have been the difference between Philadelphia winning or losing the Super Bowl last season? Will he next season? Will he ever?
Don’t get me wrong, I think he’s the best guy for the job, and if the Birds sign him, so be it. So much evidence points to the organization going in a different direction, though.
Final Haul: Malcolm Jenkins, S; Taylor Mays, S; Parys Haralson, OLB; Mike Neal, DE/OLB; Colt McCoy, QB; Steven Hauschka, K; Terrell Thomas, CB; Dexter McCluster, RB/WR
While he’s not a sexy name like Jairus Byrd or T.J. Ward, Malcolm Jenkins just makes sense for Philadelphia. He’s only 26, has ideal size at 6’0” and 204 pounds and is extremely versatile, with the ability to play some cornerback as well. Jenkins will be moderately priced, but he has been very productive, coming off a season for the Saints where he recorded 2.5 sacks, two interceptions and two forced fumbles.
Chip Kelly will know Taylor Mays from their time together in the Pac-12. The USC product is a perfect change of pace for the Birds defensive backfield, as he can line up in the box but also possesses the athleticism to drop into coverage.
Other than Hauschka, the rest of the players on this list are purely for depth or to provide competition throughout the roster.
Haralson has ties to Eagles Vice President of Player Personnel Tom Gamble from their days in San Francisco. Neal can put his hand in the dirt, but he was getting some snaps at linebacker as his stint in Green Bay was winding down. Thomas, like the aforementioned players, would not be a lock to make the team, but if he can show he’s recovered from multiple ACL tears, he could be very valuable coming off the bench.
This would not be an amazing haul by any stretch of the imagination, but every player on this list comes from a quality organization and has something to offer in one capacity or another.