A lot of Eagles fans’ wishes came true this offseason. The team finally has a solid receiving corps, the linebacker position is the best it’s been in years, and the pass rush got some much needed reinforcements. Unfortunately, there’s still a handful of positions that have been neglected throughout the offseason, one of them being safety.
Tyrann Mathieu was the prized possession in the late stages of the free agency period. There were multiple reports that the Eagles were in hot pursuit of the Pro Bowl safety and they emerged as a front-runner within the past few weeks. But as the days went on, it became clear that signing the Honey Badger was not a priority for Howie Roseman and Co.. Following draft weekend, Mathieu signed with his hometown New Orleans Saints to a three-year, $33 million deal with $18 million guaranteed.
The Eagles do have in-house options to replace Rodney McLeod in their secondary. The front-runner for the job is probably Marcus Epps, who turned in a solid outing in limited snaps last season. But his primary role is playing around the line of scrimmage and that’s where he’s succeeded throughout his NFL career. The team needs to find a reliable deep safety, even if it’s just a stop-gap signing.
Here are five free agent safeties the team can turn their attention to now that Mathieu is off the board.
Tashaun Gipson would be a classic stop-gap signing for Howie. He’s 31 years old and has been a reliable starter for the majority of his career. Since entering the league in 2012, Gipson has recorded 27 interceptions, three defensive touchdowns, and over 550 combined tackles. In 2021, Gipson spent the majority of his snaps at free safety, the exact type of skill set the Eagles need right now. He’s clearly past his prime, but as a one-year stop-gap option, Gipson checks all the boxes.
Jaquiski Tartt has been a reliable presence in San Francisco’s secondary for the past few years. Since 2017, Tartt has played at least 82% of the team’s defensive snaps. During that time, Tartt has posted an average Pro Football Focus grade of 67.74. Not great, but he’s an above average safety who can do what the Eagles will ask of him — cover over the top.
Remember Andrew Adams? The Eagles signed him last offseason as a depth piece while McLeod recovered from his torn ACL. Adams was actually getting starter reps in McLeod’s absence during camp, before getting released during the final wave of cuts at the end of training camp. He then rejoined Tampa Bay and played a similar role as a backup. If nothing else, Adams can add some competition to the safety battle. In his limited action last year, Adams held his own, posting a PFF overall grade of 76.4 with a run-defense grade of 81.5.
Former Niners safety Tavon Wilson is a reliable safety who can do a number of different things on the field. Whether he lines up closer to the line of scrimmage or over the top, Wilson has proven to be a capable player at either alignment. He’s been a journeyman safety for the majority of his career, spending time with New England, Detroit, Indianapolis, and most recently San Fran. Over his career, he’s appeared in 133 games and has made 46 starts. Wilson’s best season came in 2016 with the Lions, where he posted an overall PFF grade of 79.3 while recording two interceptions and 89 combined tackles.
Matthias Farley has had an up and down career in the NFL. Since entering the league in 2016, he’s played for three teams and has had bright spots during each stint. In 2017, Farley played a whopping 927 defensive snaps as a member of the Colts secondary. During that season, Farley posted an overall PFF grade of 74.9 and a run-defense grade of 84.1. Farley hasn’t matched that type of production since the 2017 season, but he played relatively well in his limited playing time last season with Tennessee. He’s proven to be reliable around the line of scrimmage and at free safety.