INDIANAPOLIS — Hopes are high that the Eagles will finally find the solution to their safety problems this offseason. But it is certainly possible — perhaps even likely — that they’ll fall short of those aspirations. It may be another year of survival at the safety spot.
Howie Roseman painted that as a possible scenario when speaking with a handful of reporters at the combine Thursday afternoon.
Generally speaking, the Eagles will be looking for value in free agency as opposed to big-ticket players with exorbitant price tags. They’ll be searching for complementary pieces to their young core that are likely to fit well with within the team’s culture.That doesn’t mean that they won’t spend big if a target checks all the boxes.
“I think unique situations call for unique action, so if there is a unique player in free agency that is hard to find other than at the top of the draft and fits all the criteria that we’ve outlined — some publicly, some privately — then you have to look at it. We still view ourselves as aggressive and risk-takers. Sometimes you have to take risks to get better,” said Roseman.
Jairus Byrd and T.J. Ward may very well be the type of players that the Eagles would be willing to spend ‘A’ money on. But it’s not quite that simple.
“When you say an ‘A’ player on the market right now, is that player going to get tagged, is that player going to be available?” said Roseman. “And then, is it ‘A’ money or is it ‘A-plus-plus’ money? Then how does that fit into the structure of your football team? When you talk about chemistry and rewarding your own players, when you bring someone in from another team and you’re paying A-plus money, how are your other players going to feel?
“That person has to be a special person on and off the field.”
The two most coveted free-agent safeties may never hit the market. And if they do, chances are their asking price will be sky high. Still, as Roseman said, “unique situations call for unique action.” Couldn’t you also say, unique positions call for unique action? The Eagles have been hurting at safety spot for years now. Whether it’s overspending or moving a player up the board, does the team brass need to move outside of their comfort zone here?
“You can’t force things. You can’t make something that’s not there. I think we’ve all seen the lessons learned from that. If you do that you’re going to make a huge mistake,” said Roseman. “Sometimes the option is just to get through the moment and to do some stop-gap things. And I’m not necessarily saying that’s what we have to do at a particular position, but if you look at the teams that have won the championships over the last couple of years, they’re not perfect at 22 spots. And I think there’s a big difference having a weakness at a particular position as opposed to being solid and getting through. That’s going to be the important thing.”
The terms “stop-gap” and “get through the moment” aren’t ones this fan base wants used when discussing the safety position, but that could end up being the reality.
“Listen, we’ve talked a lot about it. We’ve talked a lot about Brian Dawkins and we talked a lot about the position, and it’s understandable. But you can’t make up great players at a particular position. And if you do and you use a resource on that, you’re going to miss out somewhere else and it’s really going to weaken the team and you’re going to compound the problem because you’re going to put either money or picks into it and you’re still not going to have the right answer,” he said. “We have to find the right answers. We have to do things the right way. And I know sometimes that may not be what you want to hear but I think in the long run it’s really going to serve us well.”
A couple other highlights:
There has been some debate as to whether the Eagles will be looking for another option at nose tackle other than Bennie Logan. Roseman made it clear that the organization is high on the LSU product.
“When you first see Bennie, he’s 6-1, but he has a frame that can easily withstand 320 pounds. He’s got 34-inch arms. He’s got really big hands. His wingspan is actually six inches bigger than his height,” said Roseman. “We think Bennie did a tremendous job as a rookie. He’s incredibly strong, he’s athletic and he’s got a very bright future.”
— As for Brandon Boykin, Roseman did not rule out the possibility that he would could compete for one of the outside spots, but stressed the importance of the nickel position and how well Boykin thrived in it last season. He also made it a point to call him arguably the best gunner in the NFL as well. Early odds are that Boykin stays in the slot and continues to play a key role on special teams.