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What the Eagles should do at safety

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Eagles roster outlook: position-by-position.

NFL: Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The 2019 NFL offseason has begun for the Philadelphia Eagles, which means Howie Roseman and Doug Pederson will spend the next couple of weeks evaluating the 2018 roster. It’s time to start figuring out what this team needs to do to get back to the Super Bowl. Today we’ll continue this roster outlook series by looking at the safety position.

THE PLAYERS

MALCOLM JENKINS

Regular season stats: 1038 snaps, 97 tackles, 1 interception, 8 passes defensed, 3 forced fumbles, 1 sack

Playoff stats: 139 snaps, 13 tackles

Review: Going to repeat what I wrote when Jenkins was named to the Pro Bowl as a replacement: “Jenkins didn’t a single defensive snap in the regular season or the playoffs. He played all 1,180 of 1,180 ... PLUS 158 special teams snaps. The guy is simply a warrior. He’s never even missed a single Eagles game since signing with Philadelphia as a free agent five years ago. He’s arguably the team’s best free agent signing of all-time. The Eagles are very lucky to have Jenkins. In addition to being an incredibly versatile defender, he’s invaluable as a leader in the locker room. He certainly played a big part in the Eagles winning the Super Bowl last year and helped spark a defensive turnaround this year by suggesting that Jim Schwartz should simplify the defense.”

Outlook: Back in January, Jenkins said his original goal was to play 10 seasons in the NFL. Well, he just finished his 10th season, but he also said he still feels good. Jenkins is under contract through 2020.

Poll

Malcolm Jenkins: Stay or go?

This poll is closed

  • 98%
    Stay
    (2090 votes)
  • 1%
    Go
    (36 votes)
2126 votes total Vote Now

COREY GRAHAM

Regular season stats: 655 snaps, 56 tackles, 1 interception, 5 passes defensed

Playoff stats: 139 snaps, 6 tackles

Review: The Eagles re-signed Graham in early August. He began the season as a third safety behind Jenkins and McLeod but he was thrust in the starting lineup once McLeod got hurt. Graham had one of the worst plays of the entire 2018 season in Week 4 when he simply forgot to cover a player on 4th-and-15 with the game on the line. Graham was ultimately fine enough to help the Eagles get through the season but he just wasn’t an ideal starter for this team.

Outlook: Graham is set to be a free agent. He turns 34 in July. He might just retire. Even if he doesn’t, it’s time for the Eagles to look for an upgrade.

Poll

Corey Graham: Stay or go?

This poll is closed

  • 8%
    Stay
    (184 votes)
  • 91%
    Go
    (1870 votes)
2054 votes total Vote Now

AVONTE MADDOX

Review: I already wrote about Maddox in the [cornerback position review].

Outlook: I think Maddox projects as a corner in 2019 but it’s not impossible he could get some looks at safety next season and/or beyond.

Poll

Avonte Maddox: Stay or go?

This poll is closed

  • 98%
    Stay
    (5019 votes)
  • 1%
    Go
    (74 votes)
5093 votes total Vote Now

TRE SULLIVAN

Regular season stats: 220 snaps, 17 tackles

Playoff stats: 86 snaps, 10 tackles, 3 passes defensed

Review: Sullivan made the original 53-man roster but he was cut after a bad special teams mistake in Week 1. The Eagles signed Sullivan to their practice squad and then promoted him to the active roster following injuries to McLeod and Graham. Sullivan got snaps as a rotational safety in 2018. Oddly enough, he graded out as the top safety in the playoffs by PFF.

Outlook: Sullivan will have to compete for a roster spot as a backup in 2019. His realistic best case scenario is filling the old Graham role as a third safety.

Poll

Tre Sullivan: Stay or go?

This poll is closed

  • 69%
    Stay
    (1309 votes)
  • 30%
    Go
    (579 votes)
1888 votes total Vote Now

RODNEY MCLEOD

Regular season stats: 162 snaps, 10 tackles, 4 passes defensed

Review: McLeod was off to a good start in 2018 before suffering an unfortunate ACL/MCL injury in Week 3.

Outlook: McLeod and the Eagles recently agreed to a reworked contract that will keep him in Philly through 2019 (McLeod was previously signed through 2020). Assuming he’s healthy, McLeod projects to resume his role as a starting safety next to Jenkins. It remains to be seen how effective he’ll be coming off injury.

Poll

Rodney McLeod: Stay or go?

This poll is closed

  • 94%
    Stay
    (1878 votes)
  • 5%
    Go
    (107 votes)
1985 votes total Vote Now

DEIONDRE’ HALL

Regular season stats: 6 snaps, 4 tackles

Review: The Eagles traded a conditional 2019 seventh-round pick to the Bears for Hall right after final cuts. Hall only played six defensive snaps in 2018 despite the fact Philly had a ton of secondary injuries; he mostly contributed as a special teams player. For those wondering, BGN alumnus Jimmy Kempski reported that the conditional pick the Eagles gave up for Hall DID convey to Chicago.

Outlook: The Eagles will give Hall a full offseason to learn the scheme and compete for a backup safety spot in 2019. There’s some hope that the 24-year-old defensive back might be able to contribute to this team.

Poll

Deiondre’ Hall: Stay or go?

This poll is closed

  • 51%
    Stay
    (857 votes)
  • 48%
    Go
    (795 votes)
1652 votes total Vote Now

CHRIS MARAGOS

Review: Maragos began the season on the PUP list (physically unable to perform) while still recovering from a PCL injury he suffered in October 2017. He never played in 2018 and actually had a second surgery on his knee in December.

Outlook: Maragos is set to be a free agent. He just turned 32 in January. After coming off two straight knee surgeries, I’m guessing the Eagles’ former special teams captain might retire.

Poll

Chris Maragos: Stay or go?

This poll is closed

  • 18%
    Stay
    (329 votes)
  • 81%
    Go
    (1465 votes)
1794 votes total Vote Now

FREE AGENCY OR TRADES

I don’t think the Eagles address safety in free agent unless it involves signing someone for very cheap. Bring back Jaylen Watkins on the minimum?

I’m going to go out on a limb and say Eric Reid won’t be signing in Philly.

NFL DRAFT OPTIONS

The Eagles really need to start thinking about the future of the safety position. Jenkins will turn 32 in 2019. McLeod, who is set to be a free agent after this season, will turn 29 in June.

The Eagles could look to draft a safety as high as the No. 25 overall pick. Delaware’s Nasir Adderley is getting buzz as the top safety prospect in the 2019 NFL Draft. Alabama’s Deionte Thompson is also in that conversation.

Philly won’t be drafting a rookie safety to start right away; ideally they’d play a rotational role behind Jenkins and McLeod in 2019 before taking over as a full-time starter in 2020.