For generations, the Eagles couldn't find one promising young cornerback. Now they have a whole stable of them.
And in the NFL, young means cheap.
The Eagles were able to allow 30-year-old Patrick Robinson to leave via free agency after an extraordinary season for five reasons: Jalen Mills, Sidney Jones, Rasul Douglas, Ronald Darby and Daryl Worley.
To win consistently in the NFL, teams have to draft well because having a significant number of talented players on bargain-basement rookie contracts is the only realistic way for a contending team to stay under the salary cap.
The younger players essentially subsidize the high-priced stars.
And the Eagles' five young corners — Jones is 21, Douglas is 22, Worley and Mills are 23 and Darby just turned 24 — are all talented but most importantly, they're all still on their rookie contracts.
Jones, Douglas, Worley, Mills and Darby have a combined 2018 salary cap figure of $4,529,400.
Or less than Robinson's $5 million signing bonus with the Saints.
The Eagles drafted Jones and Douglas in the second and third rounds last year and Mills in the seventh round in 2016. Darby, who came to the Eagles last summer in the Jordan Matthews deal, was the Bills' second-round pick in 2015, and Worley, who the Eagles acquired last week from the Panthers in the Torrey Smith deal, was Carolina's third-round pick in 2016.
Here are the 2018 cap figures for the Eagles' five young corners:
$1,395,475 — Sidney Jones
$1,058,139 — Ronald Darby
$ 756,572 — Rasul Douglas
$ 670,000 — Daryl Worley
$ 649,214 — Jalen Mills
Jones is the Eagles' highest-paid corner but only their 28th highest-paid player.
Darby's deal is up after this year. The Eagles have Mills and Worley under contract through 2019 and Jones and Douglas through 2020.
So they can stay cheap at corner for years.
According to Overthecap.com, the Eagles have the sixth-highest defensive payroll in the NFL but the third-lowest cornerback payroll, ahead of only the Packers and Colts.
The Eagles are devoting just 3.03 percent of their adjusted $177,714,409 salary cap to cornerbacks, per Spotrac.
Only the Colts (2.96 percent) are devoting a lower percentage of their 2018 cap to cornerbacks.
So the Eagles basically have young, cheap cornerbacks to offset the massive contracts they gave players like Fletcher Cox, Malcolm Jenkins, Brandon Brooks, and Zach Ertz.
The Eagles actually have 11 players under contract who, by themselves, have a higher 2018 cap figure than all the Eagles' cornerbacks combined.
None of this works if the young corners can't play. But Mills had a breakthrough season for the Super Bowl champs, Darby proved to be a speedy playmaker (although a bit inconsistent) when healthy, Douglas was solid while Darby was hurt and Jones could be the best of all.
Worley is the new guy and said Monday he can play anywhere — inside, outside, safety — and that's the key. All these corners are versatile, which gives Jim Schwartz (and Howie Roseman) a lot of flexibility.
How will they all line up next year? Too early to say, but it's easy to envision a scenario where Darby and Jones are outside, Mills is in the slot, Worley is the backup to all three spots and Douglas converts to safety, where the Eagles have little depth.
Or the Eagles could dangle Darby — whose contract is up after 2018 — and try to recoup a missing third-round pick.
And get even younger and cheaper.