In the flurry of free agency, amid the signings and the trades and the movement of players around this Eagles roster, one of the first moves the team made was to secure the rights to Maragos, a safety who is more prolific to date in his NFL career as a special-teams ace.
Chris Maragos? Huh? Who?
Turns out, see, that four teams wanted Maragos, who was a core special teams player for the Super Bowl-champion Seattle Seahawks and who does it all in the kicking game. He’s a personal protector and plays in all phases of coverage and returns.
It was a significant moment of opportunity for Maragos, who reached the NFL the hard way.
“I had four teams interested in me in free agency right off the ball and it felt great,” he said. “It was the first time in my career that it happened that way. I had to transfer in high school just to get recruited. Then I went to Western Michigan (as a wide receiver) and nobody knew who I was. Went to Wisconsin (and played wide receiver before moving to safety) and nobody knew who I was. In the NFL, nobody knew me and I didn’t get drafted.
“So to have that kind of interest was great. But it doesn’t change the mindset. Not one bit. What can I do to help the Eagles win? That’s all I’m about.”
Maragos is part of the team’s upgrade on special teams, an effort that included the team re-signing punter
Bringing Maragos on board is a huge component. He lives the game, loves the game and has a Super Bowl ring to show how valuable he is. Signed originally in 2010 as a rookie free agent by San Francisco, Maragos has fought his way for a place in the league and he’s not about to give up an inch of his turf.
“Am I a football star? I don’t know, man. I feel like I’m just a football player,” he said. “I started playing football in second grade and wasn’t the best player until I got to eighth grade for one year and then I went to high school and wasn’t the best player until my senior year and ever since then I still think I’m trying to be the best player.
“I was very fortunate to have a very competitive environment at a young age and I really had to strive and grind and really focus on details. My mentality has always been to win. I walked on to my college team (Western Michigan) and then transferred to Wisconsin and sat out a year and then walked on there. I wasn’t drafted by the NFL and I’ve bounced around, so I’ve always had to take care of the little details. I think that maybe some of the guys with more talent, as we got to college and the NFL, didn’t know how to take care of details and I did. So when it came down to a coach relying on somebody, I got the nod. As the doors kept opening, I kept taking advantage of my opportunities.”
His opportunity now is to make the coaches take notice of him as a safety, because he would someday like to be a starter there in the NFL and he won’t stop pushing for that goal. But Maragos knows that special teams are his meal ticket. He gets it.
“Playing special teams and having that mentality, yeah, you have to have the right mindset,” said Maragos, who says he measures at 5-feet-10 and 5/8 inches and 203 pounds. “But I also think it’s a talent. I don’t think it’s something you acquire. It’s like having good hands or being fast. You can tell somebody to play restrained and they can try it. But when you flip the lights on you need guys who are gritty and tough and who play hard and that’s either in him, or it’s not. You may be able to motivate them for a play or two, but over the long haul, week after week, it’s either in you or it’s not.
"I play gritty and tough football. That’s who I am. I really don’t think there is anyone who can stop me when I’m out there. I’ve always felt that I’ve been capable – both in college and in the NFL. I know that when you first look at me from a recruiting standpoint, when you’re looking at all the measurables, I was always on the back burner. I just wanted a chance to get to a team and take it from there.”
It’s been a smooth and easy transition for Maragos as one of the new guys in the locker room. Everyone is accepting. Everyone has open arms. This is a roster that has totally bought in.
Now we’ll see how all of the pieces fit. This piece, this Maragos, knows he’s going to revel in doing the down and dirty work.
“When I first came in to the NFL with San Francisco, I know guys were like, ‘Who is this? Is he the new intern for the equipment room or something?’ But then I got on the field, and the lights went on, and they saw how I played. I think that’s the coolest thing. Fans will see the tackles that are made and they notice that, but there are so many things that I’ll do that aren’t splash plays,” said Maragos. “They’re not going to be things that jump off the TV screen at you. It’s going to be little things that benefit everyone on the team and make us all better.
“I want to be a starting safety in the NFL. But truly, my goal is to help my team win the best way that I can. If that’s playing special teams, that’s great. If that’s handing out water to whoever is coming to the sideline, that’s great. Whatever I can do to help us win, that’s what I’m focused on. I told Coach (Chip) Kelly when I first got here that I’m not going to be perfect, but I’m going to try to be perfect in everything I do. If you have that mentality and work hard every day and try to improve every day and build that foundation, it pays off when the times are tough and you need something good to happen.”