As if it needed to be said, the Eagles’ defensive back situation over the years has been sub-par. From uncontrollable injury outbreaks to just flat out horrible play, Eagles’ DB’s have been one of the NFL’s worsts groups for years. However, as we approach the off-season and the free agency frenzy, the birds have some decisions to make regarding some critical pieces in their defensive backfield. Who will Philly pay, and who will they let walk?
McLeod has quietly been one of the better players on the Eagles’ defense over the past couple of years. He’s not a player often talked about… which is a good thing. McLeod is incredibly consistent. He has the ability to both cover and help defend the run at a very high level. His ability to play mistake-free football week in and week out is a trait the Eagles would surely miss if they let McLeod walk. With that said, it should only be a matter of time before Philly resigns McLeod.
In August of 2017, Philadelphia made a trade with the Buffalo Bills for cornerback Ronald Darby. Many expected Darby to come in and instantly be a top-caliber corner for Philly. Instead, what they got is a player who is either continuously on IR or always getting beat.
Darby is one of the more disappointing players Philadelphia has brought in. Early in his career, he looked like a guy who could eventually become a true lock-down corner in the league. After shining during his rookie tenure in Buffalo, however, he’s never looked the same. He gets beat deep, consistently misses tackles, and can’t perform at a CB1 level. At this point, Darby isn’t worth the investment. Expect Darby to hit free agency at the start of the off-season.
Jalen Mills is one of the more interesting free agent situations. If you’d asked me whether or not I would want him resigned this time last year, I would’ve given you a resounding no. However, Mills has played well enough that Philly should consider paying him.
Sure, Mills has issues covering the double move. Sure, Mills gets fried occasionally on balls he should be able to defend. But that’s what happens when you make a CB2 talent corner a CB1. The issue with Mills is that he’s being asked to play above his level. He shouldn’t be guarding guys like Julio Jones and Amari Cooper every week. He’s not that caliber of player. However, find a true CB1 and allow Mills to cover teams’ second and third receivers, and he’ll thrive. Resigning Mills shouldn’t be a top priority for Philly, but it should be a priority nonetheless. He’s a good player who’s been stuck in a bad situation. Give him some help, and he could be, as weird as it is to say, great.
Who else could be added to the fold in 2020?
The bottom line is this: Philadelphia needs a true number one corner. They haven’t had one in at least a decade and have continually paid for it. Luckily for them, there are plenty of viable options expected to hit free agency this year.
My personal favorite is current Cowboy Byron Jones, who appears to have become an afterthought to Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper in contract talks. Snatching Jones away from Dallas would not only significantly improve the Eagles’ defensive backfield but would also significantly weaken the Cowboys’.
Another big name is Chris Harris Jr., who’s name was being tossed around a ton at the trade deadline. Harris Jr. would bring a veteran presence to the locker room as well as a real CB1 talent.
Either way, you dice it, Philly has excellent options to improve their secondary. With guys like Cre’Von LeBlanc and Rasul Douglas already on the roster, the only thing missing is a true CB1. With the options available in free agency, however, this problem should be easily solved.