The Philadelphia Eagles officially released cornerback Cary Williams. It was far from a surprise to see the team move on from the much-maligned cornerback. Now that he's gone, here's a look at what this move means for the team going forward.
Easy decision: Immediate cap savings
The decision to move on from Williams wasn't a difficult one. He wasn't worth over $8.1 million and it made too much sense to save the $6.5 million by cutting him. And it's not like he was very endearing. It's a little interesting that the Eagles didn't at least approach Williams about a pay cut. Which leads me to my next point...
Eagles are very confident in their ability to overhaul the secondary
Williams is gone. Bradley Fletcher will likely leave in free agency. The Eagles will have to replace both starting cornerbacks, and it seems they're confident they can. Otherwise, as I suggested last week, the team may have just waited until free agency started and they were sure they could replace him. This is what the Eagles did with Patrick Chung last offseason; they kept him until they knew they had Malcolm Jenkins in the fold.
The Eagles clearly plan to overhaul their secondary. Whether the plan works or not remains to be seen. The 2015 NFL Draft doesn't necessarily offer a lot of quality cornerback options, but there are a lot of intriguing names in free agency.
Keep an eye on Byron Maxwell
Rumor have it that the Eagles are the favorites to sign the Seattle Seahawks cornerback in free agency. He'll be one of the best players at this position on the market. Maxwell is expected to command a big price tag; there will be a lot of buyers interested in him.
If the Eagles miss out on Maxwell, some other options could include (via Rotoworld): Brandon Flowers, Tramon Williams, Antonio Cromartie, Buster Skrine, Kareem Jackson, Davon House, Perrish Cox, Jimmy Wilson, Patrick Robinson, and/or Chris Culliver.
Here are Mike Mayock's top cornerbacks from the 2015 NFL Draft class. More on these players in the coming days.
1. Trae Waynes, Michigan State
2. Jalen Collins, LSU
3. Marcus Peters, Washington
4. Kevin Johnson, Wake Forest
T-5. Byron Jones, Connecticut
T-5. P.J. Williams, Florida State
Internal options: Boykin to the outside?
The Eagles currently have three cornerbacks under contract for 2015: Brandon Boykin, Nolan Carroll II, and Jaylen Watkins. Could any of them be starters in 2015? Maybe. Let's look one by one:
Brandon Boykin - Yes. If you count the slot cornerback as a starter, that is. Otherwise, no. As of last week, reports indicate the Eagles still don't want to move Boykin to the outside. It's just not going to happen.
Nolan Carroll II - Maybe. When Bradley Fletcher got benched in Week 16, Carroll was the first player off the bench. The Eagles also rotated Carroll in for Fletcher a little bit early on in the season. Carroll had a strong 2014 training camp but was only mainly used in the team's dime packages. He played well in his limited role, but was more up and down when he started during the team's Week 17 finale. Perhaps Carroll is the backup plan at one spot if the Eagles can't find two new starters they like on the outside. On a side note, there's been some talk about Carroll possibly moving to safety. There's no indication that the team is interested in a position switch but the defensive back is reportedly open to a change if it means more playing time.
Jaylen Watkins - The 2014 fourth round pick didn't get much burn as a rookie. He did get burned, however, by fellow rookie wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. in the Eagles-Giants final game of the season. Watkins is probably in a spot where Earl Wolff was last year, meaning he has the chance to win a job if he steps up and earns it. It won't be handed to him at all.
Of the three internal options, Carroll might have the best chance to start on the outside.
With Nate Allen also scheduled to be a free agent, the Eagles will potentially be replacing three out of four starts in the secondary. Only Malcolm Jenkins is under contract and expected to return. The Eagles have a chance here to build this thing right by starting fresh.