Eagles Insider

Add Marcus Epps to the list - starting safety signs with Raiders

Eagles Insider

The Eagles lost their third defensive starter in the span of six hours Monday evening when safety Marcus Epps agreed to contract terms with the Raiders, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.

Earlier in the day, T.J. Edwards signed with the Bears and Javon Hargrave signed with the 49ers. The Eagles on Monday also lost offensive lineman Andre Dillard, their 1st-round pick in 2019.

Pelissero reported that Epps’ deal with the Raiders is worth $12 million over two years, with $8 million guaranteed.

That’s a lot for Epps, who is a nice, smart, steady player but not an elite defensive back. Epps, originally a 6th-round pick of the Vikings in 2019, earned $2.72 million over the last three years with the Eagles.

Epps was a favorite of former defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon, now the head coach of the Cards. If Gannon were still here, the Eagles might have had more of a sense of urgency to re-sign players like Epps and Edwards.

But at $6 million per year, it’s hard to imagine the Eagles in their current salary cap state matching that kind of deal for Epps. Safeties are among the lowest-paid players in the NFL and a $6 million average would make Epps the 24th-highest-paid safety in the league, according to Spotrac.

In his first season as a full-time starter, Epps played 1,096 snaps this past year, most on the defense.

In four seasons, the last 3 1/2 with the Eagles, Epps has played in 62 games and started 25, all with the Eagles. He has three interceptions – two in 2020, one in 2021 – no sacks and one forced fumble, this past year.

 

With Epps gone, the Eagles are now in danger of losing both their starting safeties from the Super Bowl team and the NFL’s No. 2 defense. Chauncey Gardner-Johnson is also a free agent and could be in line for a deal worth somewhere north of $12 million per year, a figure the Eagles probably can’t match.

Despite joining the Eagles after training camp and playing in just 12 games, Gardner-Johnson shared the NFL interception lead with six.

Reed Blankenship, who played very well while CJGJ was out, will likely be one of the starting safeties in 2023. The only other safeties on the roster are K’Von Wallace, who has started seven games in his three seasons, and Andre Chachere, who was on and off the roster and practice squad this past season.

The Eagles haven’t drafted a safety in the first three rounds since Jaiquawn Jarrett out of Temple in 2011. He was released two weeks into his second season.

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