The Eagles upgraded the safety position last offseason with the signing of Malcolm Jenkins. The big ticket free agent and Nate Allen formed the Eagles starting lineup at the position, which led to mixed results. While Jenkins started off hot and Allen had his moments, the team was constantly plagued with allowing big plays. That wasn't all their fault, but it's clear that Allen could be upgraded.
This offseason, Allen is a free agent, once-promising prospect Earl Wolff is in limbo and Jaylen Watkins is likely to stay at cornerback. The team may look to bring in outside help to get better at safety. While the draft features some interesting names, the veterans set to hit the market are even more promising. Former Pro Bowl safety and current Patriots starter Devin McCourty may be an appealing option for Chip Kelly and Co.
A talented prospect out of Rutgers, McCourty was drafted in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft. Originally used at cornerback, McCourty had a very successful rookie season and even received votes for Defensive Rookie of the Year. He collected 82 tackles, a sack, 17 pass breakups and seven interceptions in 16 starts and was voted to the Pro Bowl while receiving All-Pro honors. He followed up his rookie campaign with 87 tackles, 13 pass breakups, and two interceptions in 14 games (all starts).
In 2012, McCourty produced 82 tackles, 13 pass breakups, five interceptions and two forced fumbles. He was converted to safety in 2013 and received All-Pro honors again. In his first year at safety, he collected 69 tackles, an interception and two forced fumbles. This past season, McCourty helped lead the Patriots to the playoffs. He produced 68 tackles, two interceptions and a forced fumble. He then helped win a Super Bowl for New England just a few days ago.
Appeal to Eagles
McCourty has been a full-time starter for five years and has a vast background in one-on-one coverage, which the Eagles ask of their safeties. McCourty and Jenkins would likely be the best pair of coverage safeties in the league, giving the team more flexibility at cornerback (although, they shouldn't explore that as a solution). Unlike Jenkins, McCourty has the ability to cause turnovers, as he has collected 17 interceptions and seven forced fumbles in five seasons. Add in the fact that Kelly has had the ability to watch McCourty in practice during the last two training camps, and you can see why the Eagles may be ready to pay a veteran like McCourty.
Appeal to McCourty
As with any free agent, money matters. The Eagles have a great deal of cap space even without cap casualties, so that shouldn't be a problem. McCourty is also from New Jersey, so the move would take him a little closer to home. Also, it would take him out of his brother Jason's conference, as he plays for the Titans. The Eagles would also likely put him in position to make plays and give him cornerback snaps in nickel. The Patriots may have to pay Darrelle Revis a lot to keep him, so McCourty may want more than New England can offer.