Over the last few months, the Eagles have added several players to the secondary. Of the those players, the addition that has probably been overlooked the most is Bradley Fletcher. Listed at 6'0" and 200-pounds, Fletcher signed with the Eagles on the first day of free agency, agreeing to a two-year deal, worth $5.25 million. Fletcher, who had played his entire career with the St. Louis Rams, was looking for an opportunity to prove that he is a starter in the NFL.
Along with fellow free agent acquisition, Cary Williams, Fletcher is expected to play a key role in the Eagles defense. From everything the coaching staff has said about their defensive system, the team plans on taking advantage of a variety of formations. For Bradley, who is large by cornerback standards, this could mean that he becomes an important chess piece for new defensive coordinator Billy Davis. Fletcher's measurables, which are very similar to Charles Woodson (6'1" and 202 lbs), could allow for him to be used a blitzer and offer help against the run.
Fletcher's ability in coverage has been understated for the most part. Following years of being in-and-out of the Rams lineup due to injuries and coaching decisions, Fletcher will now be given the opportunity to show his coverage ability on a consistent basis. According to Pro Football Focus, Fletcher only allowed a completion percentage of 47% and a quarterback rating of 55.8 in 2012. He also ranked second in the league on a coverage snap per reception basis. That is pretty impressive when you recall the ineptitude of Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie over the last two years.
Fletcher has started 26 of his 43 career games, including a stretch from 2010-2011 where he started 20 of 21 games before being injured four games into the 2011 season. When he has been healthy, Fletcher has played very well. He had four interceptions and 11 passes defensed when he was a full-time starter in 2010.
Like any player, the key for Fletcher is staying healthy and performing well on a consistent basis. With the Eagles clearly behind him as a starter, it is up to him to prove that he deserves to play a key role. Still only 26 (27 in June), Fletcher has plenty of football left in him, and if he can play like the team believes he can, they may have gotten a huge steal in free agency.