Would the Eagles spend big money on Jairus Byrd?
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Over the last two seasons, safety Chris Clemons had 190 tackles, three interceptions and 12 passes defensed for the Dolphins. (USA Today Images)
Each day from now until March 7, the day before teams can talk to agents for free agents, Geoff Mosher and Reuben Frank will profile some of the NFL’s top impending free agents and project their likelihood of signing with the Eagles.
Chris Clemons, safety
Last team: Miami Dolphins
Clemons, who has four career interceptions, became a starter in 2012 and started all 32 games for the Dolphins over the past two years. He has three of his four picks in the past two years.
Miami selected him in the fifth round of the 2009 draft, 165th overall, eight picks after the Eagles took Macho Harris. Harris started that year, filling the void left by Brian Dawkins, and didn’t make the team in 2010. Harris has been out of the NFL since Sept. 2010.
Clemons rated as Pro Football Focus' 19th-best safety in 2013 but was ninth in pass coverage, just one spot behind Jairus Byrd and two ahead of T.J. Ward. Clemons made a base salary of $2.5 million last year after signing a one-year deal in free agency.
The Eagles have so many holes at safety, assuming that Nate Allen, Patrick Chung, Kurt Coleman and Colt Anderson aren’t back, that they must address the position in free agency. They can’t use their whole draft on safeties.
When I hear Eagles GM Howie Roseman talk about smart, economical upgrades over blockbuster additions who become even more costly if they don’t pan out, it seems he’s talking directly about someone of Clemons' caliber. Clemons isn’t great, but he can start right away or compete against a draft pick to earn his spot, and the Eagles won’t have to blow everyone else out of the water to land him. Wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if he landed in Philly.
Roseman has said a few times in the context of the safety position that the Eagles don't need a superstar at every position, they just have to be solid at every position. It kind of seems like he’s preparing Eagles fans for the likelihood that the team's safety additions will be more along the lines of a Clemons than a Ward. And that’s not the worst thing ever.
Clemons isn’t a star, but he’s solid, and replacing Chung with Clemons would be the same sort of upgrade as replacing Nnamdi Asomugha with Cary Williams. You’re not getting a stud, but you’re getting significantly better. Clemons -- not to be confused with the current Seahawk and former Eagles defensive end with the same name -- is best in coverage, and the way the game is changing -- more passing, less blowing people up across the middle -- that’s what the Eagles need. Hopefully, the Eagles get him. And hopefully, the move works out better than the other Chris Clemons signing did.