It’s been awhile since the Eagles have had solid corners on their defense. They haven’t sent a corner to the Pro Bowl since Asante Samuel went back in 2010, and they really haven’t had anyone play even marginally well since then. You could argue that the Eagles haven’t had a top-20 corner this entire decade — seriously, it’s been that bad.
So, as we enter yet another offseason with a hole at corner back, there are a few routes Howie could take to try and remedy this problem. He could take a corner with his first round selection in this upcoming draft — which I think would be the best plan of action — or, he could take the route he’s taken so many times before and sign one of the top free agent corners on the market.
His track record of signing free agent corners won’t exactly inspire confidence in the fanbase, but there are two very solid corners set to become free agents this offseason in Chris Harris Jr. and Byron Jones. Both figure to be massive improvements over what the Eagles currently have at corner.
The Birds have been linked to Harris in the past from trade rumors during the season, but Jones would be the better option now that they’re both free agents.
First off, Jones is about three years younger than Harris and is still in the midst of his prime. Whereas with Harris, we’ve likely seen the best out of him, as he’ll be 31 heading into next season.
Jones is also a much better fit in the Eagles defensive scheme. He’s a natural press man-to-man defender who isn’t afraid to get up in the receivers’ face at the line of scrimmage. His speed along with his tall stature are vital in his pass coverage abilities as well.
According to Pro Football Focus, Jones had a forced incompletion rate of 15.1%, ranking him as the 22nd corner in that category. He also allowed an average of 11 yards per reception, also ranking him at 22 among corners.
Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz loves to have his corners on an island in most of his defensive sets. Jalen Mills and Rasul Douglas struggled with this, mostly due to their lack of speed. Ronald Darby and Avonte Maddox also struggled playing press man, mostly because of their small frames.
Jones not only brings some much needed speed at corner, his big frame and leaping ability makes it easy for him to contest almost every ball thrown his way.
With both Mills and Darby set to become free agents, pursuing a veteran like Jones just makes sense for Howie and the front office. Keep an eye on this former Cowboy as free agency approaches.