With just a few hours remaining before the doors open to the league's annual free agency sale, we have one position group left to preview and it's an area the Eagles overturned last offseason. The trade for Pro Bowl cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie led most to assume the Eagles would stay put at cornerback last year, but they shocked the football by swooping in for prized cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha. Now, Rodgers-Cromartie, Asomugha and Asante Samuel are still under contract heading into 2012. With the Eagles make any more surprising moves at cornerback, or perhaps add to their young group of safeties. We'll find out soon enough …
On The Roster:
CB - 1. Nnamdi Asomugha 2. Asante Samuel 3. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie 4. Joselio Hanson 5. Curtis Marsh 6. Brandon Hughes 7. Trevard Lindley 8. D.J. Johnson
S – 1. Nate Allen 2. Kurt Coleman 3. Jaiquawn Jarrett 4. Colt Anderson 5. Tom Nelson
2011 Eagle(s) Hitting The Market: None, in fact. The Eagles hold the rights to all members of the secondary for the 2012 season.
Adam Caplan's Free Agent Rankings:
CB: 1. Brent Grimes (Franchised)
2. Cortland Finnegan
3. Carlos Rogers
4. Brandon Carr
5. Lardarius Webb (RFA, first-round tender)
6. Tracy Porter
7. Ronde Barber
8. Eric Wright
9. Aaron Ross
10. Richard Marshall
S: 1. LaRon Landry
2. Michael Griffin (Franchised)
3. Dashon Goldson (Franchised)
4. Abram Elam
5. Jim Leonhard
6. Chris hope
7. Brian Dawkins
8. Tom Zbikowski
9. Tyvon Branch (Franchised)
10. Bob Sanders
Where's The Fit?: At cornerback, the Eagles' offseason plan will depend on the status of Asante Samuel. If Samuel is brought back with Asomugha and Rodgers-Cromartie, it would be extremely unlikely that the team would look for another cornerback in free agency, though the need for a slot cornerback of the future is something that could be addressed in the draft. If the Eagles choose to part with Samuel and his contract in some form or another, then the need for a second-level cornerback is created – though the Eagles could feel last year's third-round pick Curtis Marsh is ready to step into a bigger role.
At safety, the Eagles have three young players all drafted by the team within the last two years. Nate Allen appears safely entrenched as a starter and should only get better in his second year removed from a torn patellar tendon. Kurt Coleman has proven himself as a quality third safety and important special teams contributor. The focus, then, is on Jaiquawn Jarrett, who started two games as a rookie after the team drafted him in the second round of last April's NFL Draft. The Eagles believe Jarrett is a future starter in the NFL, but if they're not ready to hand the reins over to the former Temple Owl just yet, they could look for a veteran safety with starting experience in free agency.
Intriguing Names: Sure, we said it last year, but don't expect the Eagles to be in the market for any of the big-name free agent cornerbacks like Brandon Carr, Cortland Finnegan, Carlos Rogers or Tracy Porter. Jarrett Bush played the slot for the Green Bay Packers and is reportedly expected to move on this offseason and could be a fit for the right price. The most intriguing player listed among Caplan's cornerback could beDwight Lowery, who actually started 11 games at safety last year for the Jacksonville Jaguars, one of the league's top-10 defenses. Lowery joined the Jaguars as a free agent last offseason, so he's proven that he can fit in a new scheme quickly. Elsewhere at safety, LaRon Landry has been linked as a possibility to the Eagles, but he could be looking for big money as the top-rated safety on the unrestricted market. The Eagles haven't shied away from kicking the tires of productive players coming off injury in the past, and in that vein Jim Leonhard could be of interest. Leonhard had long been lauded by Rex Ryan as the leader of the Jets defense, but he tore his patellar tendon in early December. Perhaps an incentive-laden two-year could be worthwhile. Indeed, after three of the top safeties were given the franchise tag and another was re-signed, the pickings in free agency at safety are bit slim, but is there a diamond in the rough for Eagles?
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