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Eagles are getting cornered at cornerback

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The draft will have answers, but the problem runs deeper

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Cincinnati Bengals Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The Eagles spent the first day of free agency adding to their offense. Since then, they’ve remained silent. The lack of cap space after those signings, at about $3 million, is certainly a factor. But they’ve still got needs to address. Bennie Logan and Connor Barwin’s starting jobs are up for grabs, and both starting cornerbacks from last year are no longer on the team. The current depth chart lacks actual depth: Jalen Mills, Ron Brooks, Dwayne Gratz, C.J. Smith, Aaron Grymes, and Mitchell White. Smith played just one snap on defense, Grimes just 9 on special teams last year, the Eagles were Gratz’s third team in 2016, White was in the CFL the last three years. Brooks might be released, which would save $1.6 million in cap space, but like Ryan Mathews’s $4M in savings, the Eagles would have to wait until he is medically cleared to release him, and if he’s cut then they’re down another corner, which only amplifies the issue.

At this point the Eagles have to draft a corner, and given the depth at the position in the draft and their needs, they should take two. There will be a corner available at 14 that could start, but planning to roll with two rookie starters is a bad idea. And only adding rookies to the depth chart above still makes for a poor group of CBs. At the very least, as unpleasant as it seems, a stop gap is needed. Looking at the free agent market, the least might be all they can do.

Signed

Not spending big on corner was justifiable, but now the second-tier players are starting to go off the market.

Prince Amukamara, Bears - 1/$7M. Amukamara’s second straight one year contract as he tries to stay healthy and productive.

A.J. Bouye, Jaguars - 5 years/$67.5 million with $26 million guaranteed. That’s a lot of money for someone who has never been a full time starter.

Nolan Carroll, Cowboys - 3/$9M, $3M guaranteed. Sums it up:

Marcus Cooper, Bears - 3/??. Details aren’t available, but considering Cooper spent one inconsistent year as a starter in Arizona, it’s probably comparable to Carroll’s contract.

Stephon Gilmore, Patriots - 5/$65M with $40M guaranteed. An enormous amount of guaranteed money.

D.J. Hayden, Lions - 1/$5.25M. That’s a little pricey for a guy who’s struggled on the field and to stay healthy.

Captain Munnerlyn, Panthers - 4/$17M, $8.8M guaranteed. Munnerlyn returns to Carolina after three years in Minnesota, the latter two in the slot.

Logan Ryan, Texans - 3/$30M. No details on how much is guaranteed, but the total money is more palatable, though the track record of internally developed DBs by the Patriots is terrible.

Unsigned

There are some options still available. They’re not much more than warm bodies or reclamation projects, but that also means they should come cheap. Another one year deal would be in line with the Eagles offseason.

Morris Claiborne - Signing Claiborne would essentially be swapping him for Carroll, which means the Eagles would get the younger player (he’s 27) who was actually good last year, though his season was cut short with a groin injury.

Davon House - Signed from Green Bay in 2015, House was a starter his first year in Jacksonville then found himself a backup in 2016. He’ll be 28 when the season starts, and the Eagles already have a guy he replaced in Dwayne Gratz. A reunion with the Packers seems likely.

Sterling Moore - Moore has been on three teams in three years, starting 28 games in that span, but he’s just 27. He’d probably like some stability, but with the Eagles dishing out one year deals, he could make some sense.

Patrick Robinson - The Eagles had some interest in Robinson last year, but he ultimately signed with the Colts. He missed 9 games with injuries and was released on Friday. Could they be interested again?

Sam Shields - Shields missed 15 games recovering from his fourth concussion in his seven seasons. If he can recover, he can be a good player, but the Packers weren’t willing to take that chance and released him in February.

Alterraun Verner - A big signing in 2014, Verner spent the last two years as a backup in Tampa. He’s just 28, a one year deal to get back to a starting job somewhere makes sense for him.

Kayvon Webster - The Eagles are thought to have some interest in Webster, who Cory Undlin coached in Denver and was buried behind Chris Harris, Aqib Talib and Bradley Roby. Expectations should be low, but at 26 and with coaching staff familiarity, he might be a pleasant surprise.

There’s also the shells of Darrelle Revis, Tramon Williams Lardarius Webb, and Terence Newman, but the Eagles should stay away from players over 30—and they’re unlikely to want to sign with a team that wasn’t a contender in 2016. And there are players with more name recognition that playing ability such as Brandon Flowers, Brandon Carr and Justin Gilbert. Stay away from them too.

It’s slim pickings, but the longer the Eagles wait to add at least some depth, the slimmer they get.