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Suddenly, Eagles Seemingly Value Linebackers, Safeties Not as Much

Even after the signing of Jaquiski Tartt, the safety position needs to be addressed in the long-term, sort of the way the franchise has done with the LB group
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Jaquiski Tartt was as good of a free agent signing as you will find in the middle of June.

Despite a down year in 2021, the safety had a very good seven-year career, all of it spent in San Francisco with 80 games played which includes 60 starts.

That’s good veteran leadership to pair with Anthony Harris on the backside of Jonathan Gannon’s defense.

Here’s the thing about the safety position in general for the Eagles – it’s nothing more than a Band-aid.

Harris and Tartt are both 30 and are both on one-year deals.

RELATED: Eagles Make a Move at Safety, Sign Veteran Jaquiski Tartt

Remember when it was the linebackers?

As in, why don’t the Eagles value that position more?

That philosophy went out the window this offseason when GM Howie Roseman drafted two and signed two in free agency, including one, Haason Reddick, to a three-year deal while the draft picks – Nakobe Dean and Jyron Johnson – will get multiple-year deals.

It’s a position that now appears, on paper at least, to be a strength.

The safety position, however, has seemingly replaced linebacker as the position that doesn’t seem to hold much value. It’s probably just temporary, but still, it’s a thing now.

Anthony Harris discusses Falcons rookie Kyle Pitts
Marcus Epps
Safety K'Von Wallace addresses media after Eagles-Patriots practice on Aug. 17, 2021
Jared Mayden
Andre Chachere and K'Von Wallace celebrate a play during the 2021 season

The Eagles have selected a linebacker in the third round in two of the last three drafts – Davion Taylor in 2020 and Dean this past spring.

The last time they drafted a safety in the first three rounds? Try 2011 when Jaiquawn Jarrett came in the second round, the 54th player taken overall.

I bring this up because of the eye-opening contract extension Minkah Fitzpatrick signed earlier in the week that makes the Pittsburgh Steelers star the highest-paid safety in the NFL.

The Eagles have been known to hand out some big-money deals to players at that position.

Just not recently.

Sure, they tried, but the prices weren’t right to land the big names on the market.

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The last time the Eagles had big-time security at the position was in 2016 when they gave Malcolm Jenkins a four-year contract extension worth $35 million with $21M guaranteed. The Eagles then signed free agent Rodney McLeod to a five-year, $35M deal with $17M guaranteed.

Good money, but even six years ago it pales in comparison to what Fitzpatrick got – four years for $73.6 million with $36M guaranteed.

The Eagles did a good job spreading out the money to a pair of star safeties who were instrumental in leading the Eagles to a Super Bowl championship a season year after signing their contracts.

Fitzpatrick is making $18.4M this season.

The top five at the position are filled out by Seattle’s Jamal Adams ($17.5M), Minnesota’s Harrison Smith ($16.0M), Denver’s Justin Simmons ($15.3M), and Arizona’s Budda Baker ($14.8M).

By comparison, here are the numbers for the Eagles’ safeties:

  • Tartt: Unknown as of now
  • Harris: $1.165M
  • Marcus Epps: $960,000
  • K'Von Wallace: $895,000
  • Jared Mayden: $825,000
  • Andre Chachere: $825,000
  • Undrafted free agent Reed Blankenship: $50,000 guaranteed with a chance to earn up to $705,000 if he sticks on the roster for the season.

Only Mayden and Wallace have more than one-year contracts and they have just two-year deals.

This could be viewed in one of two ways.

First, there is the potential for a long-term opportunity if one of the safeties steps up this season.

Or two, the Eagles have some work to do to shore up the position not only possibly just this season but in the future.

Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Fan Nation Eagles Today and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles or www.eaglesmaven.com and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.