Darius Slay and…who?
Chalk it up to yet another question the Eagles’ new coaching staff will need to answer, this one at the cornerback spot.
Avonte Maddox was given the spot opposite Slay last year and GM Howie Roseman compared Maddox’s athletic ability, something he needs being on the smaller side at 5-9, to Hall of Fame great Darrell Green.
Maddox does his best work at safety and maybe with the Eagles projected to play more cover-two, with two safeties at the rear of the defense, maybe that is a move new DC Jonathan Gannon and new DB coach Dennard Wilson make with Maddox since the team needs safety help as well.
There aren’t many options at this point unless Michael Jacquet or Grayland Arnold or Kevon Seymour take to the job.
There are not many answers at this stage of the game, but here’s a closer look at the position as our series examining each position group on the team turns to the corner.
CB1: Darius Slay
CB2: Avonte Maddox
Others: Michael Jacquet, Kevon Seymour, and Craig James
Notes: Given the lack of depth at this spot, the Eagles wouldn’t dare trade Slay would they in their quest to get younger? Slay, 30, had some terrific moments last year, but also was beaten by some of the game’s best receivers, including Arizona’s DeAndre Hopkins. Still, he’s as close to a shutdown corner as the league has.
There is a slew of Eagles unrestricted free agents here: Jalen Mills, who is both a corner and safety, Cre’Von LeBlanc, and Nickell Robey-Coleman.
Mills offers versatility and has said he wants to return for a sixth season in Philadelphia, the only city he has played in since joining the Eagles as a seventh-round pick in 2016 and has much as a segment of the fan base doesn’t think he’s very good, Mills is very good and probably should return.
LeBlanc is likely to return on a one-year deal, but NRC may move on after a season that didn’t quite live up to his standards.
There are some interesting free agents at this position and the Eagles could look to bring one in.
Forget Patrick Peterson. Too expensive.
Maybe the Eagles can squeeze Richard Sherman into a bloated salary cap, but he is 33 and doesn’t fit with this team's youth movement.
Vernon Hargreaves is a former first-round pick and will turn just 26 this summer. He has not lived up to his status as the 11th overall pick in 2016, but he’s a Florida guy, like Roseman, and maybe Wilson can turn him around.
A.J. Bouye turns 30 in August and, after some big paydays, he may want to try to rebuild his resume on a one-year deal after being cut by the Broncos.
Some others that could fit the bill include the Chargers’ Michael Davis, former first-round pick and the Texans’ Gareon Conley, the Chiefs’ Bashaud Breeland, and the Steelers’ Mike Hilton.
There are a few former Eagles out there, too, including Rasul Douglas, Jaylen Watkins, and Chandon Sullivan.
The Eagles could jump on one of the three corners considered tops in their class – South Carolina’s Jaycee Horn, Alabama’s Patrick Surtain, and Virginia Tech’s Caleb Farley – with their sixth pick, but that may be too high for any of these three to get picked.
There are some talented corners in the draft, so it’s a position that will likely be addressed later and perhaps more than once.
With a burgeoning free agent market loaded with possibilities, there probably isn’t any need to give up anything to bring in anyone like the Eagles did last year when they landed Slay.
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s EagleMaven. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.