The Eagles have re-signed CB Nolan Carroll to a one-year deal worth roughly $2.63 million. Carroll is coming off a strong season last year as the starting cornerback until his season ending foot injury suffered at Detroit on Thanksgiving. This offseason has been a busy one for the Eagles in what was a significant overhaul of bad contracts and players from the Chip Kelly Era. However, no position has been focused on quite as much as the secondary. After having the fifth worst defense against the pass and giving up the second most touchdowns through the air last season, it was apparent that changes needed to be made. Howie Roseman and the Eagles shipped off Byron Maxwell and his huge contract to Miami in a deal that also included Kiko Alonso and a swap of first round picks, giving the Eagles the 8th overall selection. With Walter Thurmond set to test free agency (reportedly may be looking towards retirement) along with Nolan Carroll, only Malcolm Jenkins and Eric Rowe were left over from the starting secondary when free agency began. To say Howie went to work would be an understatement.
The Eagles were able to sign two cornerbacks and a starting safety in addition to Carroll in the first week of free agency. Ex-Ram safety Rodney McLeod was given a five-year $37 million deal and he is primed to takeover for Thurmond at free safety next to Malcolm Jenkins. The 25 year-old is coming off a season where he had 82 total tackles to go along with three forced fumbles and interception. McLeod is known for being a big hitter, something the Eagles haven’t had since Brian Dawkins left for Denver. Along with McLeod, the Eagles inked former Buffalo Bills CBs Leodis McKelvin and Ron Brooks who received two-year and three-year deals respectively. The pair will not only bring their unique skill sets to the team but also unique knowledge of the defense run by new coordinator Jim Schwartz. Both played for Schwartz in his stint as the Bills defensive coordinator and both had their best years in the system. They will also be able to help Schwartz implement his new system with the younger guys such as Rowe and McLeod.
With these new additions and the core that was already in place, the Eagles secondary is poised to have a bounce back year. Assuming Carroll is healthy enough to play, he should retain his starting job opposite of Eric Rowe, with Jenkins and McLeod manning the last line of defense. Vernon Hargreaves’ name continues to bounce around in plenty of mock drafts, including our own Max Burka’s, as a potential pick for the Eagles at number eight this upcoming April. He would be another talented, young addition to this secondary. Regardless of the draft with Brooks and McKelvin fighting for the nickel spot and being able to hop in without skipping a beat in a familiar system, the front office has done a great job this offseason attempting to fix the biggest problem from last year’s season. The Eagles haven’t had a dominate secondary since the days of Dawkins, Mikel, Sheppard and Brown. The dominate secondary needs to come back in order for the Eagles to be a Super Bowl contender, Howie has done a great job at taking steps towards that dominance.
Photo: Sports Illustrated