Eagles: Gareon Conley is someone to keep an eye on as NFL free agency begins

Good news everyone, the Eagles are officially under the cap!

It took several contract restructures and a few cuts, but Howie Roseman was able to do it. The bad news is the team will still only have about $5-$7 million to work with this offseason when you factor in the $6-$8 million it’ll take to sign draft picks.

Rodney McLeod also just restructured his contract, according to Field Yates, giving the Eagles an extra $2 million to work with. So for the sake of this piece, let’s just say the Eagles will have about $10M in cap space to make free agent signings.

For lack of a better term, the Eagles will have to go dumpster diving to find diamonds in the rough during free agency. A lot of low-risk, high-reward signing are in order for this team. One guy who fits perfectly into that ‘low-risk, high-reward’ archetype is former first round pick Gareon Conley.

The 24th overall selection of the Oakland Raiders back in 2017, Conley was largely disappointing during his time with the silver and black. According to Pro Football Focus, Conley graded out 64.5 and 64.0 in his first two seasons in the NFL.

Conley certainly had his ups and downs in Oakland. While he allowed just a 59.25 completion percentage when targeted, he gave up 10 touchdowns from 2017-’18 and allowed a passer rating of 99.5.

Conley’s numbers improved drastically when he was dealt to the Houston Texans halfway through the 2019 season, though. In his six starts with Houston in 2019, Conley allowed a completion percentage of 52.2%, only gave up two touchdowns, and allowed a passer rating of 87.1 when targeted. According to PFF, since 2017, Conley has forced incompletions on 22.2% of his targets, second-best rate in the league during that time.

Conley’s value is at an all-time low mostly due to the fact that he missed the entire 2020 season because of complications with offseason ankle surgery.

Is he a solidified starter at the outside corner position? Probably not. But he’s serviceable enough and presents enough upside for the Eagles to take a flier on him. He’ll only be 26 years old heading into next season, and standing at 6-foot, 190 pounds, he fits the body type that defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon prefers in his corner backs.

With Avonte Maddox set to move inside to the nickel, the Eagles have a huge vacancy at their outside corner spot opposite of Darius Slay. They literally don’t have a corner currently on the roster who can fill that hole with any kind of effectiveness.

PFF projects Conley will sign a one-year, $2.5 million contract with $1 million fully guaranteed at signing. The Eagles have the room to get a deal like this done.

Let’s also not forget that while the Eagles will be in a position to snag one of the premiere corners in the upcoming draft at No. 6 overall, most fans and pundits expect that pick to be used on the offensive side of the ball. Most likely on one of the top-tier wideouts in the class.

Howie will still likely look to add to the corner back position through the draft, perhaps in the second round at 38 overall, but it doesn’t hurt to have a guy with experience at the position who can start right away.

Conley is the exact type of player the Eagles should be eyeing this offseason. Relatively young and has the low-risk, high-reward factor going for them. Conley fits that mold to a tee.

Eagles Draft latest w/ Rob Maaddi (AP NFL/Eagles) The Pulse of the City Pod

Brian and Ryan are joined by AP NFL/Eagles beat writer Rob Maaddi to discuss the upcoming NFL Draft. Are the Birds more likely to move up, down, or stay put at 12? Should we expect WR, CB, or ‘best player available?’ Why WR might be overrated this high in the draft? We then pivot to the front office, where we discuss Howie and Lurie’s relationship and their outlook moving forward—is it possible Howie’s job isn’t as safe as we think?
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