Howie Roseman will have a good amount of cap space to play around with during the free agency period this offseason. Following the Brandon Brooks’ retirement and his restructured deal, the Eagles were able to free up a significant amount of cap for this offseason. According to Over The Cap, the Eagles are projected to have $23.8 million in available cap.
There are a handful of positions the Eagles could allocate that money towards. Among the most pertinent needs facing the team is cornerback. Steven Nelson is set to hit the open market after signing a one-year deal with the team last offseason. He did some nice things, recording an interception and seven pass deflections. But more often than not, Nelson was a liability in coverage, allowing a 66.7 completion percentage along with surrendering a passer rating of 108.4.
Roseman will look to upgrade at the position, and he’ll have some familiar options to choose from during free agency. Both Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas are set to become free agents this offseason, both of whom were draft picks of the Eagles back in 2017.
Neither lived up to expectations during their time in Philly, but they’re both coming off stellar seasons.
Jones, still just 25 years old, is fresh off his best season to date. He posted a career-best 70.2 Pro Football Focus grade in 2021, ranking 29th among 120 qualifying corners. In coverage, Jones allowed a 61% completion percentage and a pedestrian 84.3 passer rating. Not to mention he only gave up 8.9 yards per completion.
Jones saw his biggest workload to date in 2021 as well, starting 11 games, five more than he saw in any season prior. He also saw 77 targets in coverage, by far the most action he’s seen in his career. Jones saw 42 targets in 2018, the second-most of his career.
The other former Eagle, Rasul Douglas, was legitimately one of the better corners in football this past season. He posted a PFF grade of 73.2, 19th-best among 120 corners. Douglas also posted a career-best 75.7 coverage grade, which ranked 13th among NFL corners.
Douglas’ five interceptions tied for fourth-most in the league and he took two of them to the end zone. It seems like he’s finally honed in on the playmaking potential we all saw during his time in Philadelphia.
While Douglas is certainly worthy of a long-term contract from his current employer, the Packers are not in a position to hand out any big contracts. They’re currently $40 million over the cap. The situation is a bit different with Jones and Seattle. They have the money to extend Jones if they want to, but it’s still unclear what their plans are.
For the Eagles, the most alluring option in addressing the cornerback position would be through the draft. With three first-round picks, they’ll be in a position to snag at least one of the top tier corners. But based on draft history, the Eagles rarely use their first-round pick at the cornerback position. The last time they spent a first on a corner was Lito Shepard back in 2002.
Neither Jones nor Douglas will command an astronomical price tag. Since they left Philly, there’s been a big shift in defensive philosophy, and we’ve seen what that philosophy has done for the Eagles cornerback group. It’s a lot more corner friendly than it used to be under Jim Schwartz, making it more plausible for Jones or Douglas to see Philly as a favorable destination.
Both of these corner are still young and have finally started living up to their potential. Both would be upgrades over Nelson and provide the Eagles with another young option in their cornerback room. It may not be the most likely scenario, but it’s worth discussing as Eagles fans.
Would you welcome a reunion with either Jones or Douglas? Sound off in the comments below.