The Philadelphia Eagles might need a new starting safety this offseason. The Birds just rewarded Malcolm Jenkins with a new long-term contract extension but it remains to be seen who will be lining up next to him on the back end of the defense. According to NFL insider Jason La Canfora, the Eagles could be active in the free agent market.
"I continue to hear Philly, Miami, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Oakland and Washington as the teams sniffing around the high-end safety market. I would not be surprised if Eric Weddle maintains his $8 million-per-year stature on the open market, especially if he ends up signing with one of those rebuilding teams with cap space to spare. I still have a hard time thinking the Chiefs don't end up tagging Eric Berry and then getting something long-term done this summer, similar to the Justin Houston situation a year ago."
The Eagles could always choose to retain impending free agent Walter Thurmond but it doesn't seem like that's the favorable option at this point. Recent reports indicate the Eagles haven't made an offer to Thurmond and he might make it to the open market. If Thurmond isn't back, the Eagles will definitely need a new starter. There are no other proven, obvious in-house options for the Eagles at safety.
There are some options on the free agent market, however. Eric Berry is obviously at the top of the list. As La Canfora notes, he's not expected to make it to the market. Eric Weddle, however, could be on his way out of San Diego. The problem is that the 31-year-old defensive back wants to land with a Super Bowl contender and it's hard to say the Eagles are his best bet at this point. Philadelphia's quarterback situation is unsettled and the Birds have a rookie head coach.
Another safety expected to be available is Browns starter Tashuan Gipson. We profiled Gipson in more detail last summer. Staying in the AFC North, Bengals starter George Iloka could be an intriguing option for the Eagles. The 25-year-old Iloka has great size at 6-4, 225 pounds. Rotoworld has rankings of more free agent safeties available here.
The Eagles tried to get aggressive at the safety position last offseason by offering a big contract to Devin McCourty but they struck out on that one. He ended up staying with the New England Patriots for less. It remains to be seen how the Eagles will fare in free agency this time around. If this report is any indication, the Birds will be aggressive once again.