Why haven't the Eagles fixed the secondary yet?


Anthony Harris.

That’s it.

That’s the sum total of the Eagles’ offseason secondary acquisitions. 

They let corner Steve Nelson and safety Rodney McLeod leave as free agents without even trying to re-sign them, and they re-signed a safety who didn’t play that well last year.

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No free agents and at least through three rounds no draft picks.

The Eagles went into the offseason with several very clear needs. Pass rush. Receiver. Linebacker. Corner. Safety.

They signed an edge rusher in Haason Reddick, they traded for a receiver with A.J. Brown, and they’ve loaded up on linebackers with Kyzir White and Nakobe Dean.

But no corners and no safeties.

Eagles GM Howie Roseman acknowledged Friday night that the Eagles still have work to do in the secondary but he wasn’t going to force things in the draft and reach for players to fill a need.

“I think every team is going to have a hole at some spot after this draft,” he said. “We have between now and September and hopefully we're able to add guys.

“But if we would have taken a guy in the secondary over a better player like Nakobe or Cam (Jurgens) on our board, it would have been a reach, and you guys would have said we were reaching. So we just have to do what the board tells us we can do.”


When the Eagles picked at No. 13, the top two corners – Derek Stingley Jr. and Sauce Gardner – were long gone. The consensus 2nd-round corners – Roger McCreary, Kyler Gordon and Andrew Booth – were gone by the time the Eagles picked in the second round, as were safeties Jalen Pitre and Jaquan Brisker. 

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One player that was available at 13 was Kyle Hamilton, the All-America safety from Notre Dame. But the Eagles picked Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Davis at 13, and Hamilton went one pick later to the Ravens.

So the secondary lines up today exactly the same way it lined up before the draft.

Alongside Pro Bowl corner Darius Slay, the projected starters are probably 2021 4th-rounder Zech McPhearson at CB2,and Harris and Marcus Epps at safety with 2020 4th-round pick K’Von Wallace also possibly in the mix. Avonte Maddox, coming off a terrific year, returns in the slot, which is a plus. 

But the only other corners on the roster are Tay Gowan, Kary Vincent, Mac McMain and Craig James, and the only other safeties are Jared Mayden and Andre Chachere.

It's not ideal.

After their series of trades, the Eagles go into Day 3 of the draft with just two more picks – No. 154 in the fifth round and No. 237 in the seventh round.

And while they could add a corner or safety, it’s tough to count on a Day 3 pick to come in and contribute. 

In the last 30 years, the Eagles have only landed three starting defensive backs in the fifth round or later: Mark McMillian, a 10th-round pick in 1992; Kurt Coleman, a 7th-round pick in 2010; and Jalen Mills, a 7th-round pick in 2016.

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Roseman does have a history of finding defensive backs well into the offseason and even into the regular season. Ronald Darby and Corey Graham were training camp trade acquisitions in 2017. Cre’Von LeBlanc and Epps were mid-season pick-ups in 2018 and 2019. Nelson didn’t join the Eagles until late last July.

Tyrann Mathieu is still out there but you wonder how high his asking price is since he’s been on the open market for six weeks and whether the Eagles can even afford him at this point. 

The Eagles are going to have to be creative because their secondary was not very good last year, and they’ve done nothing to improve it.

The good news is Roseman understands this.

“Unfortunately for us, we're picking where we are picking, and we made some trades up, and we understand that we'll have work to do after this draft,” he said. 

“We weren't thinking we were coming out here and everything would be perfect, and every position will be perfect, but we'll work our ass off to make sure the team is as good as it possibly can be.”