A few days ago we took a look at potential 2014 free agent targets for the Philadelphia Eagles on offense, so today I’d like to go through and take a look at potential targets on defense.
Now, this will be a lot more complicated considering we need depth just about everywhere.
Our defense has been doing a tremendous job the last few weeks in holding opponents to under 21 points for 9 straight games as well as forcing multiple turnovers the last 5 weeks. This just proves that Bill Davis’s defense is working as the players are buying into his system and now have a much better grasp of his scheme.
Our defensive line is solid if we manage to keep Thornton. The linebacker position is looking to become a strength for the Eagles, but I think the only starter I would upgrade is Trent Cole.
He’s getting up there in age and isn’t getting the level of pressure we consistently need from the position.
The rush linebacker spot is very important in the Bill Davis scheme. When Trent Cole is getting his pressure and forcing the QB to make bad decisions the defense thrives. When he doesn’t, the Eagles get torn apart. A huge reason for the Eagles defensive turnaround is Trent Cole, whom is playing much better. He’s up there in age, though, and not really worth the kind of money he will be earning next year.
In Brandon Graham, we have a talented former first round pick who is worth a chance to fight for the starting job this offseason. When he’s been on the field this year he has consistently gotten pressure and hit the QB.
The marquee names out there everyone is going to want are Lamarr Houston from Oakland or Brian Orakpo from Washington. The price it would cost for either of them wouldn’t be worth it in my opinion.
Vincent Rey – Cin – Does his best work when allowed to just rush the QB, but also has shown the ability to drop back in coverage when needed to. His best week was against Baltimore this year (week 10) and had 15 tackles, 3 sacks, 1 int and 3 pass breakups.
Jermaine Cunningham – Jets – Formerly a 2nd round pick of the Patriots, Cunningham does his best work when allowed to just let loose and attack the line of scrimmage. Good against the run as well, not just a pass rush specialist.
Other notables – Greg Hardy – Carolina, Keith Rivers – NYG, Shaun Phillips – Denver
Our defensive backs need some serious help because they are not getting the job done well enough and giving up some serious yardage in the passing game.
At safety we have Nate Allen, who seems to be a serviceable starter and has earned the rights for another year. He bounced back from a terrible year and is playing with some confidence this year.
Patrick Chung can’t stay healthy, and even when he is healthy, Earl Wolff beat him out for starting time. Speaking of Wolff, I’m not terribly sold on him either.
At Cornerback we have Cary Williams, who isn’t worth nearly the money we are paying him, Bradley Fletcher, who looks decent when on the field, and Brandon Boykin. Boykin is a stud and not going anywhere from the slot.
I think it’s safe to say, both cornerback and safety will be spots the Eagles look to improve this offseason.
Jairus Byrd – Buf – This is the target EVERYONE wants. Hell, people were begging for us to trade for him in the offseason. My issue with Byrd is simple, he’ll want entirely way too much money and isn’t the only hole on this team.
If all we needed was an elite safety to have a top 5 defense then yeah, I’d be all in on him. But, we need more than just a safety. If he can be had for a reasonable price (Eric Weddle $), I’d want him. But not as the highest paid safety in the NFL.
Sam Shields – GB – Quietly becoming one of the better cornerbacks in the NFC North. HE could be had for low money and would be an instant upgrade over Fletcher at CB2. However, he’s not a CB1-caliber player.
Aqib Talib – NE – Well worth the price even with his off the field shenanigans. Talib is probably one of the best corners in the NFL and very little people give him the respect he deserves because of his attitude.
If we had Talib and Cary Williams as our CBs we’d have probably the angriest duo in the league.
Alterraun Verner – Ten – Athletic, young, and a playmaker. What’s not to love?
TJ Ward – Cle – Extremely physical safety who loves to get in the box and wreck a running play. Would bring more physicality to our already very physical defensive backs.
Other noteables – Bernard Pollard – Ten, James Ihedigbo – Bal, Taylor Mays – Cin, Charles Tillman – Chi, Javier Arenas – Car, Brent Grimes – Mia