If you read my wide receiver free agency preview, you'll see that I listed the Eagles top 3 needs this offseason as follows: edge rusher, CB and WR. Those arent meant to be in any particular order, but honestly if I were to pick that is probably the order I would go in.
We know that this draft class is absolutely stacked with 1st-round CB prospects, containing multiple guys who have insane upside/experience. Although I will have the Eagles selecting a corner in a lot of my upcoming mock drafts, I think this is a bit of an underrated cornerback class. It may not have multiple elite corners, but there are still some solid starter-caliber guys, kind of like Steven Nelson's of last year. Keep in mind, the Eagles could sign someone to a 1 year deal and have them be a bridge for a first round corner that they draft.
I'm going to take a look at the cornerbacks hitting free agency in March, seeing which would potentially be the best fit in Philly next year opposite Darius Slay. This article will be a bit different than the WR one, since I believe every corner on this list will be in the Eagles price range. The 1st one is a bit debatable, but you know if Howie Roseman likes one of these guys he'll make sure to work the salary cap to make it possible.
2021 Stats: 1 FF, 8 INTs, 23 Pass Deflections
Jackson has been dubbed the interception king by many, due to his 17 interceptions over the last two seasons. But although his interception count may get the most recognition, J.C. is still an outstanding cover corner. Ever since the Patriots traded Stephon Gilmore mid-season, he's been able to showcase his cover and ballhawk skills. Pairing Jackson with Slay is probably too good to be true, but that would instantly transform the Eagles secondary. He's only 26 so the price range may be too high, but if the Eagles are willing to spend the money this seems like a no brainer. PFF projects his contract to be 4 years with an 18m AAV.
2021 Stats: 1 FR, 1 INT, 11 Pass Deflections
I list stats before the little blurbs just to give people a gauge of the players, in case you have never heard of them. I think we can ignore the mediocre stats from Davis, since he is one of the best young corners in the NFL and will have a big market if he hits free agency. The Buccaneers could franchise tag him, which is probably pretty likely, but if Davis can make it to the open market he's due for a big payday. He's 25 years old and has shown flashes of really elite corner play for the defending Super Bowl champions. PFF actually projects him to get a 1 year deal this offseason, which would likely only be in the Eagles best interest if it was at the right price.
2021 Stats: 2 INTs, 2 Pass Deflections
As I mentioned earlier, Gilmore started the season on the PUP list for the Patriots before being traded to Carolina right before his return. It was a low risk trade for Carolina, since they got him for a low price in the hope that they could potentially sign him for the long haul in the offseason. The Panthers have Jaycee Horn coming back from injury next season, so I find it hard to believe they would sign the 31 year old to anything longer than a 1 year deal. Gilmore would not only be a nice piece to have for years to come in Philly, but he could also help mentor Zech McPhearson or a player the Eagles decide to draft. PFF projects a 2 year 14m AAV contract, which I think the Eagles could be all over if he is the best option available in the crop of free agent corners.
2021 Stats: 1 FR, 0 INTs, 9 Pass Deflections
Williams is usually lost in a defense that has Jalen Ramsey on the opposite side of him, but someone has to cover the 2nd best receiver also. He's been an underrated corner in this league for a while, and I'd love to see him in midnight green next season. However, there is definitely a chance that he wants to be paid CB1 money, which he obviously wouldn't be here. PFF projects a 3 year deal with a 13.33 AAV, but I have a suspicion he may be asking for more than that, especially if he puts up a good performance in a Super Bowl win with the Rams. In the same vein, it's also hard to believe the Rams want him to go anywhere. We'll see if they can afford to make that happen.
2021 Stats: 1 FF, 2 INTs, 10 Pass Deflections
I think it's important to note some less pricey guys like Jackson, who is good but is not expected to have the same payday as the other guys we've already talked about. The Panthers traded for two corners last season and drafted Jaycee Horn with the 9th pick, so that kind of tells you what their plans are at the position. Jackson is only 26, and like I said, I think he is one of the most underrated young corners in this league. I think he would definitely be on board with a Steven Nelson-like deal, a 1 year contract that paves the way for him to play his way into a bigger deal in 2023. PFF projects him to get a 2 year deal with a 10m AAV.
2021 Stats: 2 INTs, 10 Pass Deflections
Any corner in the Chiefs defense will probably be seen in a negative light, due to their struggles in the playoffs against some good receiving cores. But Ward is actually a really solid outside corner, a guy that the Eagles should be all over if they are looking for a cheaper option. Ward is a solid man corner and tackler, which may cause some teams to do a little overpay. He's 25, so he's another guy I could see the Eagles signing for a longer term deal instead of drafting a corner on Day 1 or 2.
2021 Stats: 1 INT, 7 Pass Deflections
I thought it was worth at least mentioning Nelson, who had a really solid season across from Darius Slay. I don't think the Eagles will be able to sign Nelson to a cheap 1 year deal like they did last July, since he's shown he can be a serviceable CB2 in this league. I actually predicted that he would stay with the Eagles in my free agent stay or go series, but I'm still back and forth on it. Let's just say that if the draft was before free agency, this would make my job a lot easier. If the Eagles are planning on drafting a 1st or 2nd round corner, I see no reason to re-sign Nelson to a long term deal. However, if they like Nelson and believe he can keep this play up for years to come, then I see no reason for the Eagles to not re-sign him to a long term deal. Your guess is as good as mine, but if the Eagles don't show interest in signing Nelson early in free agency then I would say you can expect that they will draft someone in April.