The Eagles will see many big names in the free agent market at the safety position.
The Philadelphia Eagles defense will look a little different next season as many of their upcoming free agents will play on that side of the ball. Both of their starting safeties, Chauncey Gardner-Johnson and Marcus Epps, are expected to enter the free agent market in March. Nobody wants to see CJ leave. Looks like he won’t.
It has been reported that Philly will place the franchise tag on him if an extension cannot be reached. That’s after recording 67 tackles with six interceptions in 12 regular season games and helping Philly qualify for the Super Bowl.
The franchise tag would keep him in an Eagles uniform for at least another year while both sides try to work out an extension.
Epps recorded 94 tackles and a forced fumble in 17 games with Philadelphia last season, so if the Birds lose him, they’ll have a huge hole to fill.
It’s doubtful the Birds would spend a lot of money on TWO safeties, but just for the sake of selling arguments, let’s look at a handful anyway.
Here are the top five options the Eagles have for the free agent safety position.
1. Jessie Bates III, Cincinnati Bengals
Jessie Bates III was franchise-tagged by the Bengals last offseason, and now the free agent is looking to cash in after posting a total of 91 tackles with four interceptions in the regular season and postseason.
If Philly is looking for consistency, Jessie is their guy because he’s near or surpassed 100 tackles in his five-year career. There is only one question. What if the Bengals franchise him again?
2. Jordan Poyer, Buffalo Bills
One of Buffalo’s constant veteran strengths for six seasons was safety Jordan Poyer. While he is one of the oldest safeties (31) on this list, he still produces at a high level.
He earned 63 tackles and a forced fumble with four interceptions in 12 games this season. He won’t come cheap to any team that signs him. Last year, he made over $9 million last season, and he’s looking to make more this time around.
If Philly lands him, this would be his second stint in Midnight Green since he was drafted by the team in the seventh round of the 2013 NFL Draft.
3. Taylor Rapp, Los Angeles Rams
After having his 2020 season cut short with injury, Taylor Rapp has come back with a vengeance these past two seasons with 186 tackles, 1.5 sacks, two fumble recoveries and six interceptions.
Rapp is not only one of the more consistent tacklers on this list, but he’s also still young at just 25 years old.
4. Von Bell, Cincinnati Bengals
Cincinnati could potentially lose both star safeties this offseason, as Vonn Bell is also expected to enter free agency.
Bell was a threat to the opposite offenses this year. He collected 77 tackles, one sack, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and four interceptions.
In his four seasons with the Bengals, he’d always had a nose for football and great team play. In total, he forced eight fumbles. He also collected 1.5 sacks and five interceptions.
5. Jimmie Ward, San Francisco 49ers
When healthy, Jimmie Ward may be one of the best safeties in the NFL, but he’s only played two full seasons in his nine-year career.
In the last two, he added 121 tackles, a forced fumble and five interceptions to his résumé in 28 games. If the Eagles go after him, he should be on a short-term deal due to his health issues.
Honorable Mentions: Adrian Amos (Green Bay Packers), Juan Thornhill (Kansas City Chiefs), Nasir Adderley (Los Angeles Chargers) and Duron Harmon (Las Vegas Raiders).
Adrian Amos had a record tackles in the 2022 season with 102, but opposing quarterbacks got their way with him last year. Maybe a change of scenery will help the former Penn State star.
Thornhill was a big part of Kansas City’s secondary during their Super Bowl run, as he recorded 71 tackles, one sack and three interceptions in 17 games.
After hitting a career-high 99 tackles, Nasir Adderley made a splash this year with 62 tackles. He also had one forced fumble and two interceptions in 16 games. It would be a homecoming if the Eagles signed Adderley, while he played his varsity prom at the University of Delaware.
Harmon is the oldest kid on the roster at 32 but still had a very productive year for the Raiders with 86 tackles, two forced fumbles and two interceptions.