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NFL Free Agency Rumors: Eagles linked to Byron Jones and Chris Harris

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Cornerback help could be on the way.

NFL: DEC 09 Eagles at Cowboys Photo by Andrew Dieb/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Senior Bowl isn’t just a week where we get to hear about how top college prospects are looking at practices down in Mobile, Alabama. It’s also a week where we typically hear some juicy rumors since there are a lot of various NFL people (agents, executives, scouts, coaches, etc.) all gathered in one place.

There’s already some buzz on what the Philadelphia Eagles plan to do in free agency despite the fact the new league year doesn't begin until March 18. The following comes from Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline:

Philadelphia Eagles set to aggressively pursue a CB in free agency

Word here in Mobile is that the Philadelphia Eagles will go hard after a cornerback in free agency. Chris Harris and Byron Jones are two of the names being thrown around, but I expect the Eagles to turn over every rock in free agency in an attempt to fill the position.

Before we get to the subject of the rumor, let’s take a moment to talk about Pauline because he has a good track record with Eagles information. Makes sense given how he’s provided NFL Draft coverage for the team’s official website.

Last year, Pauline said he expected the Eagles to address their defensive end need through free agency ... and they did by re-signing Brandon Graham. In 2015, Pauline said the Eagles were “front runners” for Byron Maxwell ... and, sure enough, they (regrettably) landed him.

Point being: when Pauline has something to say about the Eagles, it’s worth listening.

It’s hardly shocking to hear the Eagles will have interest in signing a cornerback(s). Previous starters Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills are both set to be free agents. Darby seems like a sure bet to move on considering he struggled to stay healthy and play well after being re-signed to a one-year “prove it” deal. Mills’ future isn’t perfectly clear but given how much Jim Schwartz loves him one has to think the Green Goblin could be re-signed.

In any case, it’s highly unlikely that both Darby AND Mills will be back. And that leaves the Eagles with at least one starting cornerback job to fill, if not two.

So, that brings us to Harris and Jones. who figure to be two of the top players at their position on the market. Let’s take a closer look at each guy.

CHRIS HARRIS JR.

There was a time last season when former Eagles linebacker Garry Cobb guaranteed the Eagles would trade for CHJ. It didn’t happen. The cornerback-needy Eagles reportedly called the Broncos about CHJ prior to the NFL trade deadline but Denver’s asking price was too high for the would-be rental.

Now the Eagles can acquire CHJ without having to give up any assets so it’s natural they’d revisit their interest in him. But is the right fit?

CHJ is definitely talented. He’s a four-time Pro Bowl selection who also once made first-team All Pro. The 5-10, 199 pound play-maker has 20 career interceptions, 86 passes defensed (that’s a lot!), six forced fumbles, 4.5 sacks, and four defensive touchdowns. CHJ is durable with 96.5% of possible games played and he’s showcased versatility to play at both nickel cornerback and on the outside. He most recently ranked 35th out of 134 corners graded by Pro Football Focus in 2019. Adding him to the Eagles’ secondary should only make the unit better.

The problem is that CHJ turns 31 in June and, as Howie Roseman even stated, the Eagles need to get younger. Acquiring older veterans worked great in 2017 but hasn’t so much the past two offseasons.

CHJ is worth consideration as a stop-gap but he’s not an ideal long-term solution for the Birds.

Poll

Should the Eagles sign Chris Harris Jr.?

This poll is closed

  • 36%
    Yes
    (1865 votes)
  • 63%
    No
    (3247 votes)
5112 votes total Vote Now

BYRON JONES

I discussed Jones on my list of top Eagles free agent targets during last week’s BGN Radio podcast. I know signing NFC East players — and specifically former Cowboys — hasn’t worked out so well for the Eagles in recent history but there’s reason to believe Jones could buck the trend.

Jones checks a lot of boxes. The 2015 first-round pick doesn’t turn 28 until September. He’s only missed one game in his five-year career. He has experience at safety in addition to cornerback. He boasts an elite athletic profile; just look at this beautiful spider graph:

Jones ranked 15 out of 134 cornerbacks graded by PFF in 2019 and 7th in 2018, when he made the Pro Bowl.

But if Jones is so good, why aren’t the Cowboys looking to keep him? Answer: they can’t afford to keep everybody. Dallas gave out a bunch of big money deals last year to the likes of DeMarcus Lawrence, Jaylon Smith, La’el Collins, and Ezekiel Elliott. Now the Cowboys need to pay colossal quarterback money to Dak Prescott in addition to retaining Amari Cooper. And then Dallas has 22 other free agents to consider on top of that.

I do wonder about Jones’ low interception numbers. He only has two in 79 games played and zero since moving to cornerback full time in 2018. He does have 43 career passes defensed, though, so it’s not like he totally can’t make plays on the ball.

Stealing Jones away from the Cowboys could be a nice move for the Eagles.

Poll

Should the Eagles sign Byron Jones?

This poll is closed

  • 86%
    Yes
    (5442 votes)
  • 13%
    No
    (853 votes)
6295 votes total Vote Now