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Free Agency Preview: Safety

Posted Mar 11, 2013

As we reach the end of our position-by-position previews of the available free agents, we come to what will be one of the most closely watched positions for the Eagles this offseason. The Eagles certainly have to upgrade the safety position and there will be options to do so in free agency. Here’s a look at the best safety prospects to hit the free agent market, as ranked by Adam Caplan of TheSidelineView.com ...

1. Jairus Byrd, Buffalo - Ht: 5-10, Wt: 203, Age: 26, Exp: 4

Career: Broke out as a rookie in 2009 when he led the league with nine interceptions which earned him a Pro Bowl invite. Has evolved into one of the league's preeminent free safeties with 18 career interceptions and 10 forced fumbles. He has played in every game over the past three seasons and was named second-team All-Pro in 2012.

Fit: A no-brainer except he was given the franchise tag and is working with the Bills on a long-term extension. Way too much to pony up a long-term deal and two first-round draft picks.

2. Dashon Goldson, San Francisco - Ht: 6-2, Wt: 200, Age: 28, Exp: 6

Career: A starter for the past four seasons, Goldson has evolved into one of the league's elite safeties with back-to-back Pro Bowl appearances the past two seasons as well as his first All-Pro nod in 2012. Is effective in both coverage and is physical against the run. Had three interceptions, 11 pass breakups and a forced fumble for the NFC champs in 2012.

Fit: Yes. The question is price. Goldson played under the franchise tag last year and reportedly turned down a long-term deal worth $40 million. Reports are that he's looking for $8 million per season. Certainly, the Eagles have been linked to Goldson in reports and have the cap space to get a deal done if they choose to.

3. Glover Quin, Houston - Ht: 6-0, Wt: 207, Age: 27, Exp: 4

Career: Interesting career. Fourth-round pick in 2009 who started 28 games in his first two seasons at cornerback. New defensive coordinator Wade Phillips moved him to safety in 2011 and he's started every game in the past two seasons. Had 84 tackles, two interceptions, 14 pass breakups, two forced fumbles and a sack in 2012.

Fit: Yes. Versatile player with his cover ability. Has good size and can play downhill as a tackler. Can also blitz. Won't command as much money as Goldson. Is reportedly looking for the same type of deal the Falcons' William Moore got (reportedly 5-year, $30 million total/$14 million guaranteed).

4. LaRon Landry, New York Jets - Ht: 6-0, Wt: 220, Age: 28, Exp: 6

Career: Former No. 6 overall pick of the Redskins in 2007. Physical freak coming out of LSU. In first three seasons, Landry started 47 games and had four forced fumbles, 3.0 sacks, three interceptions and 23 pass breakups. However, injuries marred his 2010 and 2011 seasons and put his future in question. Signed with Jets last season and played in every game amassing 100 tackles, four forced fumbles and two interceptions as he earned Pro Bowl honors for the first time in his career.

Fit: Yes. The Eagles showed interest in Landry last year before he signed with Jets. Proved he was healthy, which was big question mark going into last season. Landry has the size, athleticism and hitting ability. Inconsistent in coverage. The question now is how much money will he seek after passing prove-it 2012 season.

5. Dawan Landry, Jacksonville - Ht: 6-1, Wt: 212, Age: 30, Exp: 7

Career: LaRon’s brother was a fifth-round pick of the Ravens in 2006. Was Ed Reed's tag-team partner in the Ravens secondary for five seasons. After accumulating 111 tackles in 2010, Landry hit the free agent market and signed a five-year deal with Jacksonville. Was released on Friday as the Jaguars overhaul their roster under the new regime.

Fit: Veteran free safety with good size who has played in every game in six of his seven seasons. Not great against the run and isn't much of a ballhawk anymore. Certainly wouldn't be a splashy signing by any means. Concern is that Jaguars dumped him and didn’t get much cap relief as if they were willing to part with Landry at all costs.

6. Louis Delmas, Detroit - Ht: 5-11, Wt: 202, Age: 25, Exp: 4

Career: Second-round pick out of Western Michigan in 2009. Extremely talented, but has durability questions. Hasn't played 16 games in a season. Missed 13 games over past two seasons. Rookie season showed his potential - two interceptions, one touchdown, eight pass breakups and 94 tackles.

Fit: Classic boom-or-bust signing. Could work out really well if he checks out physically. However, the Lions have reportedly tendered a low offer which is why Delmas wants to test the market. Certainly, the Lions know Delmas' injury history more than anyone. And it's not one injury here, one there. There's a lingering knee injury which makes a big deal highly suspect.

7. Stevie Brown, New York Giants - Ht: 5-11, Wt: 221, Age: 25, Exp: 3

Career: A remarkable story. Former seventh-round pick of Oakland in 2010. Signed with Colts in 2010 and played in eight games before being placed on IR with a quad injury. Joined Giants last season and out of nowhere becomes a starter recording eight interceptions, which was good for second-best in the entire league.

Fit: Is a restricted free agent whom the Giants will tender at the second-round level. It would be interesting if the Eagles would make an offer, but a big-money contract and a second-round pick is hefty for a player who has only had one year of success. Giants won’t want to lose Brown with safety Kenny Phillips also set to hit the market, but it is interesting they didn’t place the first-round tender on Brown.

8. Chris Clemons, Miami - Ht: 6-1, Wt: 214, Age: 27, Exp: 4

Career: Fifth-round pick of the Dolphins in 2009. Took over as the starting strong safety in 2012 and recorded 98 tackles, two interceptions and four pass breakups. Was also a starter in 2010, but only played 22 snaps on defense in 2011 as he was primarily a special teams player.

Fit: Reportedly the top in-house free agent the Dolphins are looking to keep after re-signing Brian Hartline. Perfect time to hit free agency as Clemons is coming off of his best season. Would be an under-the-radar type of signing.

9. Kenny Phillips, New York Giants - Ht: 6-2, Wt: 217, Age: 26, Exp: 5

Career: Former first-round pick is extremely talented, but has had his share of knee problems. Had a career year in 2011 with 82 tackles, four interceptions and 11 passes defensed. Limited to two games in 2009 due to arthritis in left knee. MCL injury in right knee kept him off the field for nine games last season.

Fit: With the aforementioned Brown and Antrel Rolle, the Giants are going to let Phillips test the market. He's got the talent and the size to be a good safety. The knee problems are the main issue. If Phillips checks out physically, it could be a worthwhile maneuver. However, Phillips has reportedly stated his preference is to stay in New York.

10. Ed Reed, Baltimore - Ht: 5-11, Wt: 205, Age: 34, Exp: 11

Career: Simply a brilliant one for the future Hall of Fame selection. One of the smartest ballhawks to ever grace the field, Reed has 61 career interceptions with seven returned for touchdowns (Eagles fans are unfortunately familiar with this). And amazingly enough, Reed has played all 16 games in eight of his 11 seasons including the past two for the Super Bowl champions.

Fit: It's funny to say how Reed isn't the player he once was because he still had four interceptions last season. You would love to have the veteran presence in the locker room and on the field, but at the same time would the Eagles sign him and still have to plan on replacing him in a year or two?

Like Reed, another player who is ticketed for Canton at the end of his career who is available at safety is Charles Woodson. And like Reed, Woodson is still good enough to hold up as a starter for probably another year or two. There are a number of experienced players including former second-round pick Patrick Chung of the Patriots, five-time Pro Bowl selection Adrian Wilson, who was recently released by the Cardinals, and former Eagle Quintin Mikell who are in the next tier of free agents available at safety.

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