The Eagles are looking to get better at safety. Free agency could be the ideal spot to upgrade as two Pro Bowl safeties are set to hit the market. Jairus Byrd and T.J. Ward are the two most talented safeties in free agency and can be had for oodles of cash. While the Eagles have seemingly stated that they would prefer to sign mid-level players, the safety position may need the most help.
Today, we look at Ward, who stands a very large chance of being franchise tagged by the Browns.
The former Oregon Duck has started every game that he has appeared in since being drafted 38th overall by the Browns in the 2010 NFL Draft. A starter at strong safety, Ward appeared in all 16 games of his rookie season and had possibly the best year of his career. He established career highs that have lasted his entire career with 123 tackles, 10 pass breakups and two interceptions. He also had a forced fumble.
In his second season, Ward battled a right foot injury that caused him to miss eight games. In just eight games of action, Ward collected 39 tackles, three pass breakups and a forced fumble. In 2012, Ward again missed games due to injuries. He appeared and started in 14 games in his third season and had 68 tackles, a sack, four pass breakups, an interception and three forced fumbles.
In his fourth and contract year, Ward played in all 16 games and received his first Pro Bowl selection. He had 112 tackles, a career high 1.5 sacks, six pass breakups, two interceptions and had one returned for a touchdown.
Appeal to the Eagles
At 27, Ward is still very young. He is 5-foot-10 which is smaller than Chip Kelly and Billy Davis likely want their starting safeties to be, but Ward is a tough player. He is proficient in both run and pass defense and can actually cover (here's looking at you, Pat Chung). He has familiarity with Kelly from his Oregon days and is not likely to request the type of salary that Byrd will get.
Appeal to Ward
He has gotten use to cold weather in Cleveland, so Philadelphia should be fine in that regard. As previously mentioned, he familiar with some of the Eagles staff and would be in a bigger market with more oppurtunity for endorsements and media coverage. The Eagles could afford to spend on him.
If the Browns choose not to franchise tag Ward, the Eagles should be interested in him.
If Ward can avoid the franchise tag and likes the price that the Eagles set for him, he should sign.
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