Should the Birds target any big name safeties?

Despite his affinity for cuddly puppies, 49ers safety Dashon Goldson may not be the best fit for the Eagles in free agency

The Eagles need help in the secondary. This is well established. Considering that the Eagles are likely to replace at least three of the four incumbent starters, it’s safe to say that the team can’t really afford to go without signing somebody in free agency. But as the Nnamdi contract from two years ago regrettably taught our fair city, the big names aren’t always the best options.

This year’s free agent class doesn’t feature anybody with quite the same reputation that Asomugha carried in 2011, but the names are certainly as big. Many will get a paycheck to match. But do any of them fit well with the Eagles? Let’s start with safeties.

Adrian Wilson – age 33, 6’3″ 230 lb, 5x Pro Bowler

A cap casualty for the retooling Cardinals, Wilson is an interesting candidate for one big reason: He is the closest approximation to Brian Dawkins that’s been available since… well… Brian Dawkins. Wilson is one of only five players in NFL history with at least 25 sacks, 25 interceptions, and 15 forced fumbles in his career. Although age is certainly slowing him down, in 2012 he still recorded 3 sacks, a pick and a forced fumble to go along with 6 passes defended. That’s more than any player in the Eagles secondary could say. He has never had injury problems, and has played at least 15 games each of the last 5 seasons and 10 of his 12 career seasons.

At his age, Wilson is likely looking to sign with an obvious winner that needs to shore up a hole in the secondary, so it’s conceivable that he could accept a contract from a team like the 49ers should Dashon Goldson leave in FA. He was only scheduled to make $5M ($2.5M base) in 2013 before he was cut, so it’s possible that he could be available as a decently priced, short-term solution. 

Eagles Fit:

(Note: grades are based on how well I think the player fits the Eagles, not vice versa)

Dashon Goldson – age 28, 6’2″ 200 lb, 2x Pro Bowler

A 4th round pick of the 49ers in 2007, Goldson is coming off a Pro-Bowl season for the defending NFC Champs, whose secondary allowed the 3rd fewest passing yards and 8th fewest passing TDs. Because of his youth, his recent Pro Bowl selection, and the performance of his team last season, he is expected to be the hottest commodity on the free-agent market. And he isn’t worth it. Not for this team.

Goldson profiles as the “big thumper” safety, a la Michael Lewis circa 2006. He often looks for the highlight reel, “Don’t you run a crossing route in my house” kind of hit that fans love and wide receivers hate. The problem, of course, is that this strategy leads to missed tackles. Last year Goldson recorded 53 solo tackles and 12 missed tackles. That is not great. To make matters worse, despite the fact that it looks good when he connects on a crunching hit, it hasn’t translated into game-changing plays. Despite his rep, he has forced just 6 fumbles in his career, and only 2 in the last 3 years.

To Goldson’s credit, he has continually improved in his pass coverage ability over the last two seasons, recording 20 passes defended and 9 picks during that span. Impressive, certainly. But he has also played with progressively better cornerbacks in each season, has had the benefits of Jim Harbaugh’s coaching and an all-world pass rush to force quarterbacks into making bad throws. The Eagles have none of those pieces. Throw in a likely $25 million guaranteed and this signing screams bust all over the place. Don’t get me wrong: Goldson is a very good player, but he’s not worth top dollar to the Eagles right now. Stay away, Howie.

Eagles Fit: D

Ed Reed – age 34, 5’11” 205 lb, 9x Pro Bowler

This is a pipe dream. Reed has openly considered retirement for several seasons in a row now, and is almost certainly not going to sign with any team that failed to make the playoffs last year. Reed is still excellent in coverage, as he has been for his entire career, and would be an excellent fit for any team next year.

Eagles Fit: (but it’s not happening)

LaRon Landry – age 28, 6’0″ 220 lb, 1x Pro Bowler

Landry is an interesting prospect for free agency because it’s unclear whether any team will be willing to give a big guaranteed-money contract to a guy who played on a one-year deal for the other pathetic team that wears green. For cost reasons alone he should interest the Eagles’ front office. Landry never developed into the player the Redskins hoped he’d be after drafting him 6th overall in 2007, but he has still earned a reputation as a strong tackler and run defender from the back. Last year he recorded 75 solo tackles and missed 13, which is acceptable. On the other hand, his pass coverage has been poor. It is alarming that the only games in which he graded positively on ProFootballFocus were against Indy, Arizona, Jacksonville, and Tennessee.

This is a very risky move if he’s looking for guaranteed money, but it might work out if Landy is willing to accept a team-friendly, multi-year deal that is heavy on base-salary and light on guaranteed dollars.

Eagles Fit: C

Louis Delmas – age 25, 5’11” 202 lb

The 33rd overall pick for the Lions in 2009, Delmas is one of the youngest unrestricted free agent defensive backs available, and also one of the hardest to judge. Delmas has been slowed considerably by injuries in his short career, and has not yet played 16 games in a season. Over the last two years, he was active for just 19 games due to lingering knee problems. All this makes him one of the hardest free agents to judge, because he is still sort of an unknown commodity. Delmas’ best game in run defense last year was against the Eagles, but it was also his worst game in coverage. If he draws significant interest from desperate teams, it would probably be best to stay away, but here’s a guy who still has some upside and might be had for a relative bargain. The best case scenario would be Delmas accepting a one-year “prove it” deal in an attempt to put some good performances on tape and hit the free market again next year when he doesn’t have to compete with the likes of Goldson and Reed for top dollar.

Eagles Fit: C

All statistics thanks to www.pro-football-reference.com, profootballfocus.com, and cbssports.com.

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Posted on March 11, 2013, in Eagles, Hank Mushinski, Posts and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Joey "Guns" Bove

    Well seeing that they just signed Patrick Chung today. What are your guys thoughts on him as a player, also how his past relations with Chip Kelly at Oregon that might have been a reason they scooped up the former Patriot.

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