Based on what we’ve seen out of Howie Roseman and the Eagles front office so far during this free agency period, it’s obvious they’re going to use the little capital they have to help bolster their weak defensive secondary. According to the NFLPA’s latest cap projections following the first wave of free agent signings, the Eagles are only $3.34 under the cap.
The team has already acquired two safeties in Andrew Adams and Anthony Harris, so Howie is likely going to shift his full attention to arguably the weakest position group on the entire team: cornerback. The Eagles missed out on signing Adoree Jackson, who they reportedly had a meeting with before he decided to sign a three-year, $39 million contract with the Giants.
Nevertheless, there are still a surprising amount of solid corners remaining on the open market. Here are five the Eagles should take a look at to help fill their No. 2 CB spot. Quick disclaimer — this list will only include corners who can fill the outside corner spot opposite of Darius Slay. Avonte Maddox should project at the starting nickel corner next season.
Hey remember that corner who got inexplicably benched and didn’t play a snap against the Eagles in Super Bowl 52? Well, he’s a free agent now and he can probably be had at a very reasonable price.
While Butler is on the wrong side of 30, he’s coming off his best coverage year since 2016, according to Pro Football Focus. He earned a 75.8 mark last season, ranking him 15th among corners in coverage grades. Butler also tied a career high in interceptions with 4, while allowing an 83.2 passer rating when targeted, the lowest rating he’s allowed in his career.
It’s safe to say this production will probably drop off a bit next year, considering he’ll be 31 heading into next season, but as a one-year stop gap at corner, he’s not a bad option at all. PFF currently projects Butler’s eventual contract to amount to two years at $12.5 million. I’m sure with how small his market has been this offseason, that figure could probably be dwindled even further.
After having a really solid season with Washington in 2019, Quinton Dunbar was traded to Seattle where he dealt with nagging injuries and never lived up to the standard he set for himself the year prior.
Due to his down 2020 season, Dunbar is another corner who will probably be signed to a one-year “prove it” deal in order to cash in next offseason. With just over $3 million in cap space to work with, the Eagles can still swing a deal like this if they choose to.
Standing at 6-foot-2, 202 pounds, Dunbar fits the mold of Jonathan Gannon’s cornerback archetype. He’s also relatively young at just 28 years old. If he can return to his 2019 form where he posted a career high in interceptions (4), Dunbar would be a great signing for this team.
I wrote extensively on why Conley would be a great signing for the Eagles — you can find that full article here.
Here’s a quick snippet from that piece:
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 presents a lot of upside as a cornerback prospect. Being a former first round pick, he has natural coverage ability to go along with his solid length and speed.
It’s hard to project what kind of production we’ll see out of Conley next year, most due to his absence during the entirety of the 2020 season, but he’s certainly worth taking a flier on for the Eagles.
While Breeland does have his moments, he’s been widely inconsistent during his NFL career. Last year, Breeland had three games where PFF graded him above 80, but he also had four games where he graded in the 50s or below. In the Eagles situation, he’d be upgrade at the position, but that’s mostly because the team simply doesn’t have any bodies at the position.
That’s not to say Breeland is terrible — he’s not — but he’s really nothing more than a serviceable starter. Signing him to a one-year deal wouldn’t be a bad move for the Eagles just to get some real NFL players in the cornerback room. At the end of the day, that’s really all we can ask for during the remainder of this free agency period.
Once upon a time, A.J. Bouye was a pivotal member of one of the best young secondaries in football with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Playing opposite of Jalen Ramsey for three and a half years, Bouye made a name for himself as one of the better outside corners in the league. He made a Pro Bowl in 2017, snagging six interceptions and recording 18 pass deflections.
Since then, Bouye hasn’t live up to that standard. The next two seasons in Jacksonville, Bouye recorded only two interceptions while allowing an average passer rating of 88.4 when targeted. He was then traded to the Denver Broncos following the 2019 season, but he only suited up in seven games due to a six-game PED suspension. He’ll still have to serve two games of the suspension with the team he suits up for next season.
At this point in his career, Bouye is a reclamation project. He’ll be 30 years old heading into next season, with his last good year coming in 2018. But with that being said, his value is as low as it’ll ever get and it gives a team like the Eagles an opportunity to sign him.
Bouye’s best days are probably behind him, but if the Eagles can squeeze at least two productive years out of him, signing this veteran would be worth it.