The Eagles are off to a slow start in free agency and within the span of about 10 minutes on Monday night missed out on the top two cornerbacks in this free agency class.
James Bradberry is going to the Giants.
Byron Jones is going to the Dolphins.
And the Eagles might have to get a little more creative to fill one of the biggest and most glaring holes on their roster.
With their obvious need at cornerback and with around $40 million in cap space, the Eagles were expected to be big players in free agency, especially when it came to the cornerback position. And they had been linked with Jones for weeks and even on Monday morning, as the NFL’s open negotiation period began.
But Jones is going to the Dolphins, who are handing him a contract to become the highest-paid cornerback in the league.
CB Byron Jones gets 5 year, $82.5 million with $57 million guaranteed, $40 million in first 2 years, with Miami Dolphins, according to @AdamSchefter— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) March 16, 2020
I’m told Eagles were competitive with $. There is no state tax in FL. I’m told Byron wanted $ and fresh start from NFC East pic.twitter.com/kLm8DGerAx
And Bradberry is going to the Giants on a deal that will pay him $15 million.
Source: FA CB James Bradberry going to the #Giants...3 yr $45M with $32M guaranteed.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 16, 2020
So where does this leave the Eagles?
Well, their two starters — Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills — are going to be free agents. There’s a chance Mills could return. And they still have Avonte Maddox, Rasul Douglas, Sidney Jones and Cre’Von LeBlanc on the roster. But that’s not enough.
The Eagles are obviously in desperate need of cornerback help. It might look bad that they missed out on the top two free agents, but the Eagles still have options:
1. Trade for Darius Slay (or someone else)
This is something we’ve been talking about for a while now, even dating back to last season. In February, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported the Lions had spoken to multiple teams about a possible trade involving Slay.
Back then, I weighed the pros and cons of such a deal for the Eagles.
An abbreviated version of that list was that Slay is still very good and the trade might not take as much as you’d expect. Plus, if the Eagles couldn’t work out a long-term deal with him, they’d eventually get a compensatory pick back when he walks. The cons are that Slay is 29, wants a big contract and his play has seemingly declined.
2. Sign Desmond Trufant
While Trufant wasn’t officially cut on Monday, that’s something that’s expected to happen this week, according to various reports. Trufant, like Slay, is 29 and dealt with some injuries in 2019. But in those nine games, he had four interceptions.
And the obvious connection to the Eagles is that Trufant played under new Eagles’ DBs coach Marquand Manuel for four seasons. And in 2015, when Trufant made his only Pro Bowl, Manuel was his position coach.
3. Sign a different free agent
There are still other guys available, starting with 30-year-old Chris Harris. But that list also includes Logan Ryan, Prince Amukamara, Mackensie Alexander, Kendall Fuller, Trae Waynes and more.
None of those guys would probably break the bank the way Jones or Bradberry did, but they’d be the next tier of free agents on the list. And they’d still be massive improvements over what the Eagles have had at corner in recent seasons.
The Eagles could run it back by signing Jalen Mills and piece this thing together, hoping they will be able to land a corner in the draft. The bright spot of this would be that their $40 million in cap space could go elsewhere — receiver or DL anyone? While the Eagles certainly have a big need at corner, they have holes at other positions too.
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