The 2014 NFL offseason has begun for the Eagles, which means Chip Kelly and his staff will spend the next couple of weeks evaluating the 2013 roster. While the team was able to manage a 10-6 record along with an NFC East crown, there are still many ways the Eagles roster could be improved upon. By the time NFL free agency starts on March 11, the Eagles will have a good idea of which players they'll want to bring back for the 2014 season. Today we'll continue this offseason review series by looking at the cornerback position.
Stats: 1167 snaps, 6 penalties, 1 sack, 60 tackles, 3 assisted, 13 missed tackles, 14 stops, 3 interceptions, 8 passes defensed, 1 fumble recovery
Review: When the Eagles signed Cary Williams in free agency, some were skeptical. On one hand Williams brought things like "toughness" and "Super Bowl experience" to the Eagles roster. On the other hand, he brought his style of play where he plays far off the ball and gives up a lot of catches but makes the tackle afterwards. It just so happens that Williams' style fit exactly what the Eagles defense aimed to be: bend but don't break. Williams was hardly a top cornerback in the league but he was a viable starter. His performances were typically either really good or really bad; he seems to be an up-and-down player that plays to his level of competition. Williams' brutal candor and willingness to tackle was an appreciated change from the two former Eagles cornerbacks: Nnamdi Asomugha, and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
Can you believe I got through that blurb without mentioning the word "sconce"? Oh, crap.
Stats: 949 snaps, 8 penalties, 1 QB hurry, 60 tackles, 1 assisted, 5 missed tackles, 8 stops, 2 interceptions, 8 passes defensed, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery
Review: The other starting cornerback the Eagles signed in free agency was Bradley Fletcher. Fletcher was a reliable option on the outside for the Eagles. Where as Williams' performances varied from extremes, Fletcher was more consistently solid but never spectacular.
Stats: 635 snaps, 4 penalties, 2 QB hits, 3 QB hurries, 42 tackles, 2 assisted, 2 missed tackles, 12 stops, 6 interceptions, 10 passes defensed, 2 forced fumbles, 1 defensive TD
Review: What's not to love about the Boyking? The second year slot corner stepped up in a big way. He came up in the clutch (think: division clinching interception on a Kyle Orton pass) and did a great job of manning the nickel cornerback position. Interestingly enough, Boykin was graded as PFF's best coverage corner. Boykin's 6 INTs were the second most in the NFL and only 2 behind Richard Sherman, who had 8. Boykin played ~400 less snaps than Sherman.
Stats: 220 snaps, 2 penalties, 14 tackles, 1 missed tackle, 5 stops, 2 passes defensed
Review: Carmichael was signed off the Texans practice squad during the season. Carmichael was far from perfect but did his best to fill in for an injured Bradley Fletcher against the Packers and the Redskins. Fans will be quick to fault Carmichael for his blunder against the Saints where he accidentally kicked a punted ball into the endzone for a touchback instead of downing it at the one yard line.
Review: Marsh, a former third round draft pick, was originally waived/injured at the beginning of the season. He failed to stand out in training camp and preseason. After a spending a short stint with the Bengals before being released again, the Eagles signed him back in early November. Marsh was on the team for depth purposes.
The Departed: Brandon Hughes, Jordan Poyer, and Shaun Prater were all cornerbacks who spent time on the Eagles roster but were each cut before the end of the season. Hughes is a veteran cornerback who had been with the team for a few seasons but couldn't stay healthy. The Eagles decided to cut him early in the season. In place of Hughes came Shaun Prater. Prater didn't make much of an impact with the Eagles; he was on the roster for depth purposes. The Eagles cut Prater and he ended up on the Vikings. Prater intercepted a Nick Foles pass in the Eagles-Vikings game, making him one of the only two defenders to have intercepted Foles in 2013. Go figure. Jordan Poyer was a 7th round draft pick by the Eagles. He was cut when the Eagles promoted Matthew Tucker from the practice squad to the active roster. The Eagles plan was to put Poyer on the practice squad, but the Browns claimed him before that could happen.
Who Could Leave
Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher could be cut to save some cap space, but I don't see that happening. I think the Eagles are satisfied with their corners in the short term.
Who Could Sign
As I said above, I imagine the Eagles are happy with their starting corners. It's hard to expect them signing a big name free agent cornerback, such as Alterraun Verner, if that's the case. Adding depth at corner would be a smart move.
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