“To me, that’s the hardest position to evaluate in college football is safeties,” Roseman said back in January at the Senior Bowl. “The guys that used to be the most explosive athletes and were playing in the back end, they’re going to play corner because they feel like maybe at corner, they can play 10 years. You look at the franchise tag numbers, the corner position is higher than the safety position. That is going to be the constant struggle. When you talk to people around the league, it’s hard to find safeties.”
Roseman wasn’t lying. And Sunday’s release of Kenny Phillips served as just another reminder of how this franchise has struggled to address the safety position since it lost Brian Dawkins back in 2009.
The Eagles will have options to fill their safety needs in free agency and the draft. This year’s group of safety prospects is considered deep and talented. But as we’ve seen in years past, going into the draft searching for specific needs can lead to mistakes.
And this is not an either/or situation. The Eagles should look to identify young safety talent in free agency and address the position if possible in the draft. As we wrote about on Sunday, the Birds are in good cap shape and could be in position to take advantage of a market where the supply might very well out-weigh the demand.
Here is a look at some of the Eagles’ options.
Nate Allen did not practice again on Saturday because of a hamstring strain and is officially listed as questionable for Monday night’s matchup against the New Orleans Saints. Andy Reid said Allen will travel with the team and be a game-time decision.
If he can’t go, David Sims will get the start. The Eagles acquired Sims from the Browns before the season. He’s never played a defensive snap in the NFL and could be faced with trying to deal with Drew Brees and the Saints’ offense in his first action.
“He’s actually made progress here over the last couple days so that’s a good thing,” Reid said. “He’s feeling better. I wouldn’t list him as out today. That’s now how I’d list him, but he’s not going to practice.”
David Sims‘ phone rang early last summer.
The new Eagles safety had spent training camp with the New York Giants. But around 8 a.m. on cut-down day, he found out the team was letting him go.
Sims had a short stint with the Bucs during the season before eventually signing onto the Browns’ practice squad.
“When I was with the Giants and I got cut, it put heartache on me because they made me doubt my ability to play,” Sims said. “So I had to go back to the drawing board and work 10 times harder than I already was doing so I wouldn’t be put in a situation like that again if I had the opportunity. It made me open my eyes, made me want to work harder than I already was working.”
But for much of this past Friday, despite a strong preseason, it looked like Sims’ hard work wasn’t enough. This time, the call came later, but it still came.
The Eagles acquired safety David Sims from the Browns late Friday evening for a conditional draft pick. To make room on their newly-sculpted 53-man roster, they released Julian Vandervelde.
“Solid tackler, can play on special team,” said general manager Howie Roseman. “He’s a guy that we’ve been following throughout the course of this preseason.”
The 5-9, 204-pound Iowa State product was originally signed by the Giants as an undrafted free agent last season before bouncing to Tampa Bay and eventually Cleveland. This preseason he came up with a pair of interceptions and made 14 tackles.