The Eagles are going to need to plug holes on defense this offseason and the safety position may need the most work. With three veterans set to hit the free agency market, another likely to be let go and two youngsters coming their first year in the league, the Eagles could use some talent and experience at the position. The Eagles could perhaps target the biggest fish in free agency, Jairus Byrd, who has Oregon ties and a great resume.
Byrd is a three-time Pro Bowl safety and three-time All-Pro selection. He is also a two-time AFC interceptions leader and an Ed Block Courage Award winner for the Bills. Football is also in his blood, as his father, Gill Byrd, was a two-time All-Pro and Pro Bowl selection from the Chargers and played 10 season in the league at defensive back. The older Byrd is currently the cornerbacks coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Byrd was selected with the 42nd overall pick by the Bills in the 2009 NFL Draft. He had an immediate role in the defense during his rookie season and led the AFC with nine interceptions. He also had 45 tackles and 11 pass breakups in his first year. He made his first Pro Bowl as a rookie despite suffering an injury, which forced him to miss the final two games of the season.
He retained his starting job in his second season and collected 89 tackles, a sack, two pass breakups, an interception for a touchdown and three forced fumbles. In his third year, Byrd had 98 tackles, a sack, eight pass breakups, three interceptions and three forced fumbles.
Byrd was selected to his second Pro Bowl in 2012, when he recorded 76 tackles, six pass breakups, five interceptions and four forced fumbles. His five picks led the AFC for second time in his career. He was franchise tagged by the Bills prior to free agency, following the 2012 season.
Byrd held out until August 20th during training camp, when he signed his franchise tender. Despite signing, Byrd sat out of training camp, the preseason and the first five games of the season due to a desire to be traded and plantar fasciitis injuries in both legs. Despite the injuries and missed time, Byrd still made the Pro Bowl with an impressive 48 tackles, a sack, six pass breakups, four interceptions and a forced fumble in just 11 games (nine starts).
Appeal to the Eagles
Byrd may be one of the best play-makers in the league his position. He is only 5-foot-10 and 203 pounds, but seems to be the type of player that the team would and should have interest in going after during free agency. He also is familiar with Chip Kelly and some his staff, as they overlapped during their respective tenures at Oregon.
Byrd is going to want to be paid like the top safety in the league and at this point, probably deserves it. Will the Eagles want to spend that money though? It will be interesting to see how they interact. A lot of fans and media did not think the Eagles were going to break the bank for Nnamdi Asomugha, but that happened. However, the Eagles may have learned from that incident.
Appeal to Byrd
The Eagles have a very good offense and an up-and-coming defense. Byrd wants to be in a position to succeed and make money, and the Eagles have both. The familiarity with Kelly can't hurt either. However, Byrd will go to the highest bidder, and while the Eagles could afford to be that, it is unclear if they will be.
If the Eagles are willing to spend on elite talent, they are likely in very good position to nab Byrd.
If Byrd and the Eagles like the dollars and cents in an deal, they will probably be a match.