Eagles Wake-Up Call: Offseason Outlook At CB
We’ve got to knock out the final two offseason outlook pieces, so instead of taking a question today, we’ll take a look at the Eagles’ cornerback situation.
State of the roster
The only cornerback from last year who is a free agent is Bradley Fletcher.
Cary Williams enters the final year of his deal, but carries with him an $8.17M cap hit. That’s 13th among all NFL cornerbacks.
Brandon Boykin enters the final year of his rookie contract. And Nolan Carroll is on the last year of his deal as well.
The only cornerback who was on the roster last year and is signed past 2015 is Jaylen Watkins.
What I think will happen
If Fletcher comes back, I’ll put on my 2-year-old’s tutu and post the photo on here for everyone’s enjoyment. He’s gone.
The Williams situation is tricky. In a perfect world, you find someone younger or better (or both) and move on. But it’s not easy to rebuild three-fourths of a secondary in one offseason, so I’ll say he sticks around and plays out the final year of his deal.
Unless the coaching staff has a sudden change of heart, Boykin will be relegated to the nickel. And if that happens, look for him to play out his contract and then find a team that’s willing to at least let him compete for a spot on the outside after 2015.
Carroll is an interesting one. He’s most likely the dime and top backup on the outside. But depending on what moves the Eagles make, it’s possible he’ll compete for a starting job.
Watkins only saw action in the final game of the season last year and is an unknown. The Eagles would probably like to groom him in that nickel role to take over for Boykin in 2016.
Given the state of the roster, adding cornerback help in free agency and the draft would seem like a wise move.
The free agent list
Here are the top-10 cornerback options, per Rotoworld:
1. Byron Maxwell
2. Brandon Flowers
3. Tramon Williams
4. Antonio Cromartie
5. Buster Skrine
6. Kareem Jackson
7. Perrish Cox
8. Jimmy Wilson
9. Patrick Robinson
10. Chris Culliver
Maxwell is the name that’s gotten the most buzz around these parts, and for good reason. He has the size (6-1, 207), is 26 and has started for the best secondary in the league. A couple other things that I think will interest Chip Kelly specifically: Maxwell can play inside or outside, and he was fantastic in the 2014 matchup against the Eagles.
I don’t know what the Birds will be willing to pay, but I fully expect them to have some level of interest in Maxwell.
Flowers and Skrine are 5-9, so you can rule them out. Tramon Williams turns 32 in a few weeks. Cromartie turns 31 in April.
Jackson has been a starter in the league, and the Eagles should have good intel on him with their Alabama ties, but he’s only 5-10 and has short arms.
Cox and Culliver might not be #culture fits. Wilson has not played on the outside.
Robinson (5-11, 190) has not had a great career, but he has experience both inside and outside and could be an option.
Overall, there aren’t a lot of great fits, and the Eagles might be forced to look for a hidden gem lower on the list if they don’t land Maxwell. But obviously, they’re going to be looking for CB help in free agency and the draft.
WHAT YOU MISSED
Our offseason outlook series looked at the inside linebackers. Will DeMeco Ryans be back? Will Mychal Kendricks be extended?
Draft buzz: Cornerback names to know, positional rankings and more.
No-22: An in-depth look at how Marcus Mariota would fit with the Eagles, along with why Kelly might be willing to make a drastic move.
T-Mac revisits the mobility question as it pertains to Eagles quarterbacks.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Jimmy Kempski of Philly Voice writes that Riley Cooper has the third-worst contract in the NFC East:
Prior to cutting DeSean Jackson last offseason, the Eagles handed Cooper a 5 year, $22 million deal. They paid him like a proven commodity when he had really only had one promising half season. Cooper stunk out loud in 2014, and the Eagles are now stuck with him. Cooper’s 2014 cap number, at $4.8 million, isn’t as bad as others on this list, but it would cost the Eagles more to cut Cooper than to keep him.
Although to be fair, he’s a good blocker!
Jeremy Maclin is 13th on ESPN.com’s list of free agents:
“Maclin is a tough one. I wouldn’t be super-excited about investing in him. He’s a good player but not great. He’s not a pure speed guy, but he’s fast. He’s not a ‘possession guy,’ but he can move the chains. But the way free agency works is that he’s ultimately a No. 2 wideout who’ll probably have a chance to be paid like a No. 1. He’s a player everyone wants, and if you could put him across from Larry Fitzgerald or Andre Johnson in their primes, then now you’re talking. If you have Andre Holmes on other side, well, he’ll be a different guy.”
We’ll have something on a linebacker prospect to watch.