Home Sweet Home Again for Will Parks
Thomas Wolfe may have claimed you can’t go home again but new Eagles safety Will Parks plans on proving the famed novelist wrong.
Parks, the Olney native who once starred at Germantown High School before heading west to the University of Arizona and the NFL’s Denver Broncos, signed a one-year deal with his hometown team last week in free agency.
Offered more money by at least two teams - identified as Minnesota and Detroit by an NFL source to SI.com - Parks, 25, admitted the Eagles had a bit of a home-field advantage when it came to his decision-making.
“The ability to come home, the scheme that (the Eagles) use. Really good group of players, the fans,” said Parks on a conference call when asked about his first free-agency foray.
"The way the Eagles fans love the Eagles, I’m not worried about any of that. The pride and the love for the city. It’s nothing against any other team. This is the perfect situation (for me) … the perfect opportunity to help this team win games.”
Coming off his rookie deal, Parks is the type of player general manager Howie Roseman has targeted in free agency with an eye toward turning the roster over a bit when it comes to youth and ascending players rather than those presumed to be aging and descending and on their way out of the league.
“This is a chance to prove myself to the whole league,” said Parks. “No matter if you sign a one-year, two-year, three-year deal, every year is a one-year deal (in the NFL). If you look at it that way, you go to work.”
When it comes to loyalty Parks came from a divided home - his father a long-time Dallas Cowboys fan and his mom bleeding green. Parks, however, doesn’t expect any dysfunction moving forward.
"He's a Will Parks fan" he joked of his dad.
Parks himself was a big Brian Dawkins fan growing up.
He will be tasked with helping to replace another legendary safety, the recently relocated Malcolm Jenkins, a three-time Pro Bowl selection and team leader who fit the aging description before the Eagles eschewed a team option which enabled Jenkins to hit free agency and garner two years of guaranteed money with the New Orleans Saints.
Like Jenkins, Parks is regarded as a versatile player who played both safety positions, as a nickel and dime back, and even as a linebacker on the rare occasion with the Broncos. He and Jalen Mills, who was recently re-signed by the Eagles with the idea of moving from cornerback to safety, will be attempting to fill rather large shoes.
Jenkins was Jim Schwartz's most unique chess piece for years and Parks, who started 15 of his 62 career games in Denver as a sixth-round pick, has showed a knack for the big play when given opportunities, amassing four interceptions, 13 passes defended, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and a sack over his tenure.
“I don’t like being a sitting duck so I definitely like to move around and give the defense different looks,” Parks said. “So whether it’s coming off the edge, playing deep or playing in the slot or playing on the tight end. Outside at corner. So wherever I’m needed at I’m able to play that. ... Being versatile is definitely good.”
Off the field, Parks also plans on following in Jenkins’ footsteps by giving back to his community.
“From a distance, the last four years I was giving back to the community,” said Parks. “Having the opportunity of being home and being super close to these kids (is important.)”
John McMullen covers the Eagles for SI.com. You can listen to John every day at 4 ET on ESPN 97.3 in South Jersey and reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen