What About Chris Clemons?

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Miami Dolphins

In the past week or so, we’ve profiled a couple of the bigger-name free agents at safety: Jairus Byrd and T.J. Ward.

But if Howie Roseman is telling the truth when he says the Eagles will target more mid-tier guys, it’s worth exploring who those options might be.

And one name Birds 24/7 readers have asked about is Miami Dolphins safety Chris Clemons. So we’ll start with him and cycle through some more names in the days ahead.

WHY HE MAKES SENSE

Clemons has excellent measurables. At 6-1, 214, he has exceptional size for the position, and Clemons ran a 4.41 coming out of Clemson (although that was back in 2009).

He has experience as well. Clemons started all 32 games the past two seasons and 48 in his career. In 2013, he played a big role in making the calls for Miami’s defense.

The Eagles need bodies. The only safety that finished the 2013 season on the roster and will definitely be here in 2014 is Earl Wolff. The team could look to add multiple safeties through free agency and the draft, letting the top two emerge through competition next summer.

Clemons signed a one-year deal for $2.75M last offseason. In other words, he can probably be had for cheap.

WHY HE DOESN’T

This section is going to be a little longer.

Let’s start with the obvious. Clemons was a free agent last offseason, and the Eagles had a major need at the position. It sounds like he wanted to stay in Miami, but more than likely, if the Birds liked him, they could have offered him a more lucrative deal. Instead, they went with Patrick Chung and Kenny Phillips. In other words, it seems unlikely that the organization’s opinion has changed dramatically based on Clemons’ 2013 season.

After having watched film of Clemons from last season, it was tough to point to one or two things he did really well. He was more of a free safety than a strong safety. Clemons only spent 28.1 percent of the run snaps in the box, according to Pro Football Focus. That ranked 43rd among the 63 safeties who played at least 50 percent of their team’s snaps. He was OK against the run, but did not make a lot of plays near the line of scrimmage.

Clemons was OK in coverage as well. The Dolphins played a lot with two deep safeties, and Clemons did not stand out as a ballhawk. In his five year career, he has four interceptions (and two forced fumbles).

Clemons has the size to match up against tight ends, but he didn’t stand out in that respect either. Jimmy Graham ran right past him for a 43-yard touchdown when the Dolphins faced the Saints. Granted, that’s the best receiving tight end in the game, but I didn’t get the sense Clemons was much of a TE-stopper.

He also missed 14 tackles, per PFF, and ranked 44th in tackling efficiency.

BOTTOM LINE

I don’t see Clemons as a fit. He does a lot of things at an adequate level, but there is little to suggest that he would provide the Eagles with a significant boost in any one area. In addition to the things I mentioned above, he turns 29 in September. And it’s tough to get past the fact that they didn’t make a move for him last offseason.

Maybe there’s a small chance that the Eagles take a look at Clemons on a one-year deal, but the guess here is they’ll look to go in a different direction.

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