Eagles

NFL free agency 2020: 5 possible Eagles safety free agent targets

NFL free agency 2020: 5 possible Eagles safety free agent targets

After what Howie Roseman classified as a “disappointing” 2019 season, the Eagles have plenty of work to do this offseason. Free agency begins on March 18. 

The Eagles are in a strange spot at safety. Rodney McLeod is set to become a free agent and Malcolm Jenkins has said he won’t play on his current deal. So there’s a really good chance only one of them is back in 2020. If that happens, the Eagles might need to bring in someone via free agency or the draft. I like the idea of moving Avonte Maddox back there, but there are options outside the building too. 

Here’s an early look at five safeties for the Birds in free agency:

Jimmie Ward

In 2019, the former first-round pick played on a one-year, $4.5 million deal and was a big reason for the 49ers’ success. The 28-year-old had 11 tackles in the Super Bowl. Ward has played a bunch of different positions but prefers to play safety. That’s not a bad thing. He’s a safety with coverage skills. The problem for Ward has been his inability to stay on the field. He played 13 games (13 starts) in 2019 but has played all 16 games just once in his six year career. 

Justin Simmons

The former third-round pick will still be 26 when the 2020 season starts and is probably going to bring a nice-sized salary on the open market. Spotrac estimates 5/$72M. That’s more expensive than McLeod and probably even Jenkins but if the Eagles are really interested in getting younger, this would be a way to do it but also a way to get a proven player. In four years in Denver, Simmons has played in 58 games (48 starts) and has 11 interceptions and 289 combined tackles. 

Anthony Harris 

Playing alongside Harrison Smith, Harris has turned into a really impressive player himself. And the 28-year-old is coming off his best pro season in 2019. Harris started 14 games and had 60 combined tackles, 6 INTs and 11 pass breakups. I think he’d be a good complement to Jenkins. But Harris won’t be cheap either; Spotrac estimates a deal worth $13.8M per season. 

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix 

The former first-round pick from Alabama was a Pro Bowler back in 2016 but it’s fair to say he has never really lived up to his potential. He has played for three teams in the last two years. But Clinton-Dix has played all 96 games in his six-year career and has 16 interceptions. And if the Eagles sign him, you can look forward to more wonderful puns like this: 

Tre Boston 

After years with the Chargers and Cardinals, Boston was back with the Panthers in 2019 and had another solid season. He played and started all 16 games, had three interceptions and 68 tackles. And he did all that on a one-year, $2.1 million contract he signed during training camp. He’s a good and reliable player and the fact that he’s played on three different teams over the last three years is strange to me. Maybe this is the offseason he finally gets a somewhat significant deal. 

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles

Jason Kelce egregiously snubbed by NFL's all-decade voters

Jason Kelce egregiously snubbed by NFL's all-decade voters

Jason Kelce was the best center in the NFL over the last decade and no fraud all-decade team is going to change that.

The NFL on Monday announced its team of the decade, and it was good to see LeSean McCoy, Darren Sproles, Fletcher Cox and Jason Peters named. All are deserving.

But the absence of Kelce is egregious. 

Not surprisingly, the same people who haven’t figured out that Eric Allen was one of the greatest cornerbacks to ever play the game — the Pro Football Hall of Fame voters — are the same people who have decided that Kelce wasn’t one of the two best centers in the NFL from 2010 through 2019.

Alex Mack and Maurkice Pouncey were the centers named to the team of the decade, and guess what.

Kelce has made first-team all-pro more than both of them combined.

Kelce three times, Pouncey twice, Mack zip.

Pouncey deserves one of the two slots. He’s made eight Pro Bowls with the Steelers and played on six playoff teams and a Super Bowl loser. Hell of a career.

Mack? Ask any defensive tackle in the NFL if he’d rather face Kelce or Alex Mack. 

Mack’s been a really good player, and he does have more Pro Bowls than Kelce. But he was a 1st-round pick, and those guys tend to make Pro Bowls much earlier than 6th-round picks like Kelce. 

Kelce didn’t make his first Pro Bowl until his fourth season, and he was absurdly snubbed in the Pro Bowl voting in 2017 and 2018, when he was the best center in football, made first-team all-pro both times and didn’t get picked to the Pro Bowl team.

Kelce is the only active player in the NFL that’s had two all-pro seasons in which he didn’t make the Pro Bowl and one of only six in history.

It’s tough making up ground when you’re a 6th-round pick. You come into the league with no hype, and unless you see the guy play every Sunday you can’t imagine he’s really that good.

The rest of the country finally realized in 2017 what we already knew. Kelce guy is a beast. It took way too long. And judging by this NFL all-decade team people still haven’t figured out how good he is.

Kelce has added a dimension of athleticism to the center position that may be unprecedented. What he lacks in size and strength he makes up for in determination, intelligence and leverage. 

Kelce is one of six centers in NFL history to make first-team all-pro three straight years, the only one to do it in the last 20 years. All the others are Hall of Famers.

He’s also one of only seven centers in NFL history to be named all-pro three times AND to win a Super Bowl or NFL Championship. He’s the only one to do it in the last 35 years.

Kelce did make the Pro Football Writers Association all-decade team, so at least somebody got it right.

The thing that’s really disturbing is that Kelce is building a Hall of Fame resume, and the people that snubbed him for this honor could very well do the same when he’s in the Hall of Fame conversation. All-decade teams are one of the leading criteria Hall of Fame voters cite when justifying their picks.

All I know is Kelce is one of the smartest, toughest guys I’ve ever seen. He’s played through injuries that would have ended most guys’ seasons and some guys’ careers.

And he’s done it at a consistently high level since beating out Jamaal Jackson for the starting job in the summer of 2011.

Kelce probably doesn’t give a darn about all this. He’s never been one to take individual honors seriously. That’s not why he plays the game. 

He plays the game for moments like Feb. 4, 2018, and that’s something that none of the so-called experts can ever take away.

Subscribe and rate the Eagle Eye podcast: 
Apple Podcasts / Google Play / Stitcher / Spotify / Art19

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles

NFL to reverse controversial pass interference rule for 2020 season: report

NFL to reverse controversial pass interference rule for 2020 season: report

After a one-year flirtation with pass interference challenges didn't really solve anything, the NFL is expected to end the experiment.

Pass interference replay "almost certainly will not be extended", according to a report Monday from NFL.com's Judy Battista:

This isn't terribly surprising. The rule was put in place largely because Sean Payton and the New Orleans Saints complained very loudly after an enormous missed call in the 2018-19 postseason.

That crucial uncalled pass interference, you might recall, was committed by new Eagles cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman:

The 2019 regular season allowed coaches to challenge pass interference calls, either called or uncalled, but the results were a mixture of underwhelming and frustrating.

Eagles fans probably remember this very obvious Avonte Maddox pass interference that wasn't called, was challenged by Packers coach Matt LaFleur, and then still wasn't called:

That was insane.

"The cumulative effect of the misses, plus the replay spotlight on these misses, has really taken its toll," former NFL ref and current NBC rules analyst Terry McAulay told the New York Times last November.

The line for what constitutes pass interference was shown - as football watchers already knew - to be an indistinct and ever-moving line, and the ability to challenge the calls just created one more layer of aggrivation.

If the league does indeed remove the rule, it will be a victory. Fans, players, and coaches will still yell about missed pass interference calls - but at least they won't have to do it twice.

Subscribe and rate the Eagle Eye podcast: 
Apple Podcasts / Google Play / Stitcher / Spotify / Art19

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles