Twitter Mailbag: Safety Needs

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From @pmeredith77: Why are people saying the Eagles won’t pursue Jairus Byrd or TJ Ward when mid-level safeties haven’t gotten it done in the past?

Many view the message coming out of the NovaCare as a smokescreen, but I really believe the Eagles have changed their thinking when it comes to free agency. They’re wary of sinking a large chunk of their available cash into a single player. On multiple occasions, Howie Roseman has likened free agency to an arranged marriage: you don’t know whether team and player are truly compatible until after pen has gone to paper.

The fact that Chip Kelly‘s time at Oregon overlapped with both Byrd and Ward’s takes some of the guesswork out of it. He has spent time around the players, and has a basic understanding of how they would fit into the Eagles’ defense and culture. That alleviates some of the concern. And, as Sheil did a great  job of illustrating yesterday, a player of Byrd’s caliber would fare just fine in Billy Davis‘ (and just about any) scheme thank you very much.

These guys definitely check some boxes — familiarity with coach, right age range (27), etc. — and would bolster a position that is in desperate need of an upgrade. I’m sure there has been plenty of back-and-forth inside the NovaCare on whether they should just go for it with one of these guys. Ultimately, I think they stick to the blueprint, bring in a couple lower-priced safeties and spread around the wealth instead of dropping most of it on Byrd or Ward (assuming they make it to the open market to begin with). I’m not saying that’s the right thing to do, but I think that’s the route the Eagles will go.

From @mfgimbel How about Delmas for #Eagles?

Safety Louis Delmas was just let go by the Lions, who free up about $6 million of cap space with the move. Because he was released, teams do not need to wait to the start of free agency to sign him. The Lions reportedly want to bring him back at a reduced rate.

Delmas is 26 and can be a playmaker when he’s on the field. He started all 16 games this past season but was reportedly still hampered by lingering knee issues. I think the health concerns will prevent the Eagles from seriously pursuing him, though anything’s possible if the money and risk level is right.

From @bmcg822:What position(s) do you think they need to strengthen b/f draft so they don’t have to target a position in the draft?

Safety and outside linebacker come immediately to mind.

Earl Wolff, Patrick Chung and Keelan Johnson are the only safeties on the roster at the moment. That’s troubling. There is no question that the Eagles need to address the position before May 8 rolls around, especially considering that this is not  a particularly strong safety class coming out. I say they sign multiple free-agent safeties. While the hole might not be quite as glaring, it would certainly give Roseman and Chip Kelly some peace of mind if they can secure an outside linebacker in free agency as well.

Receiver is interesting. Depending on what happens with Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper (and with other free-agent wideouts), receiver could be anywhere from a pressing need to a luxury item come draft time. Even if they are a little bare at the position, the Eagles can take some solace in the fact that receiver is one of the strengths of this draft.