The Eagles go into this offseason needing help in the defensive backfield. Other than Darius Slay, the Eagles need to upgrade the cornerback and safety positions to be more competitive. The Eagles were below average in interceptions and passing yards allowed per game in 2021. The defensive backfield needs to be a priority this offseason.
Many of the top names have already been claimed. The Eagles will need to act quickly, or they will have to rely on the NFL draft. Here are a few of the remaining available options for the Eagles’ defensive backfield. The list starts with cornerbacks and then moves to safeties.
Stephon Gilmore is 31 years old and most recently played for the Carolina Panthers. He made the Pro Bowl in 2021 despite playing only eight games due to injury. Before coming to the Panthers, he played for the Patriots and Bills. Gilmore has established himself as one of the game’s best corners. He made the Pro Bowl five times, has two All-Pro honors, and was the Defensive Player of The Year in 2019.
Gilmore is getting up there in age and would cost a lot because of his success. He might not be worth the money, but his leadership could help the Eagles.
Patrick Peterson played nine seasons on the Cardinals before spending 2021 with the Vikings. He is 31 years old, so he is also past his prime.
Peterson dominated the NFL when he played for the Cardinals. He made eight straight Pro Bowls and three All-Pro honors. Peterson had just one interception and 34 tackles this past season. These numbers actually match what Eagles’ second corner, Steven Nelson, did in 2021. The Eagles would have to pay a lot for Peterson. He might be a little expensive but could also bring veteran leadership.
Rasul Douglas is a familiar face to Eagles fans. He was drafted by the Eagles in 2017 in the third round. Douglas played in Philadelphia mostly as a backup for three seasons. He spent 2020 with the Panthers before bouncing around teams at the beginning of 2021. The Green Bay Packers signed Douglas off the Cardinals practice squad in October, and he immediately produced. In just 12 games, Douglas had 52 tackles and five interceptions.
A homecoming would benefit Douglas and the Eagles. He is just 26 years old and coming off his best season. Douglas could develop into a solid number two corner opposite Darius Slay. Compared to the older veterans, the Eagles could get Douglas cheaper and for a longer contract.
Apple was born in Philadelphia and grew up in New Jersey. He was originally drafted in the first round by the New York Giants but traded to the Saints in his third season. He played better in New Orleans before a disappointing 2020 season in Carolina. That year he went on injured reserve, played in two games, and then was released.
Apple had a much better 2021 with the AFC Champion Bengals. He had 2 interceptions and 38 tackles but allowed the game winning touchdown by Cooper Kupp in the Super Bowl. Eli Apple has talent, but never lived up to his draft hype. He had tensions with teammates when he was a member of the Giants. Apple would have to soften his outspoken personality, but he is in the prime of his career at age 26.
The Eagles could bring back McCleod. He came to Philadelphia in 2016 and has become a leader for the defense. McCleod is 31 and has a recent injury history. He played better as the 2021 season went on including a game sealing interception to get the Eagles in the playoffs. The Eagles could probably get him at a good price. Since he knows the system, the Eagles would be smart to bring him back if they can’t find any upgrades.
Edmunds is one of the younger players on the list at age 25. He was drafted in the first round by the Steelers in 2018. He could bring consistency to the Eagles’ starting lineup. Edmunds played in all but one regular season game in four seasons. He only had five interceptions in that span but does have 235 career tackles.
If the Eagles want a younger and consistent player, Edmunds could be the answer. He is not elite but could be a decent player for a long-term contract.
Kearse has been in the league since 2016. He was a seventh-round pick by the Vikings. Kearse spent the majority of his career as a backup and on special teams before coming to the Cowboys in 2021. This was the best season of his career. He had 67 tackles and two interceptions as a full-time player during the 2021 season.
Kearse is a much-improved player and could provide depth for the Eagles. He could be used as a starter and would not require a lot of money.
Mathieu would be an expensive signing for the Eagles but is a high-quality player. He was drafted in 2013 by the Cardinals and spent the last three seasons with the Chiefs. Mathieu has played well his whole career but became elite during his time with the Chiefs. He was a Second-Team All-Pro in 2019 and made the Pro Bowl in 2020 and 2021.
In 2021, Mathieu had 60 tackles, three interceptions, and three fumble recoveries. He could make the eagles’ secondary elite joining Darius Slay. Mathieu is very athletic and finds ways to get the football. The Eagles would have to pay a lot for him, but it would be worth it.