Up against cap, Howie Roseman 'comfortable' with Eagles going young at corner

Up against cap, Howie Roseman 'comfortable' with Eagles going young at corner

The Eagles addressed their need at wide receiver by signing veterans Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith.

While the moves will make the offense better and aid Carson Wentz in his development, it still leaves holes on the roster -- the most obvious one at cornerback.

The Eagles saw the top of the free-agent corner crop dry up while no serious interest from them was reported. They were linked briefly to former Texans corner A.J. Bouye, who wound up getting a large payday from the Jaguars. Stephon Gilmore left Buffalo for New England, and Logan Ryan went from the Patriots to the Titans, without so much as a rumor that the Eagles were involved.

As de facto GM Howie Roseman alluded to, the team's cap situation is challenging.

"I think from our perspective, we're gonna have to look at things as they come through," Roseman said at his press conference Friday. "Obviously as the draft comes, a few things kind of change. We're going through all that now. 

"Again, I think that as we look past this moment, we're gonna be OK. But it is a unique situation we've had."

So what do the Eagles do? There are certainly other moves to be made. Mychal Kendricks is still here ... for now. Ryan Mathews' money should come off the books once he's able to pass a physical. Roseman claims starting center Jason Kelce is safe, but we'll see.

Even if Kendricks, Mathews and Kelce are all moved, the signings of Jeffery, Smith and guard Chance Warmack will take up a significant portion of the leftover cap space. 

There also needs to be space for the team's incoming draft class -- a draft class that will be under serious pressure immediately. Jalen Mills appears to be destined for the slot. That leaves the Eagles with no outside corners with NFL experience on the roster.

But that's OK. Roseman recalled the 2004 Super Bowl squad, which featured Lito Sheppard and Sheldon Brown at corner. Both were drafted in 2002. Roseman's thinking is that if you draft the right players, you should be able to rely on them early on. 

"I think we look back to 2004, certainly not comparing this team to that Super Bowl team, but we went into that year with Lito and Sheldon, [who] hadn't started," Roseman said. "There were some of those same questions. We would be comfortable if that's how it turned out. 

"Again, we've got a long period of time before we play a game, before we report to training camp. We're going to look at every option to try and improve this team, but certainly, we'd be comfortable if that's how it shook out."

When Sheppard and Brown were drafted, the Eagles had Troy Vincent and Bobby Taylor in front of them. Sheppard and Brown were in their third year before they were asked to take over as full-time starters. That won't be the case for the corners the Eagles draft this year; they'll be thrown into the fire immediately.

"You don't want to go into a draft having to have something, but by the same token, what we said last week is true," Roseman said. "We're trying to minimize risk and make smart decisions, and if a contract gets out of hand and we set a number and price going forward, we're gonna walk away."

A big part of Roseman's comfort has to do with the depth at cornerback in the draft. There could be as many as seven corners taken in Round 1. With the Eagles holding pick No. 14, there's a strong chance a highly-regarded prospect could be there.

Still, when looking at the corner market and the corner draft class, Roseman was not interested in repeating the mistakes of the past.

"Obviously people have expectations when the market opens, but we have to be uncomfortable with some things here," Roseman said. "We're not going to address everything right now, and if there's a particular position that we don't address right now, that doesn't preclude us from doing something before the season starts and certainly not in the draft."

What's the best play in Eagles history?


What's the best play in Eagles history?

Throughout the week, we have asked fans help determine the best play in Philadelphia sports history. Today, upvote below to adavnce one Eagles play to the finals on Friday where five plays will face off to determine the top overall play.

Tune in to Philly Sports Talk at 5 p.m. to see which play will advanace to the final.

Eagles 2017 training camp position battle: Cornerback

Eagles 2017 training camp position battle: Cornerback

It's no secret.

If anyone is looking for the biggest weakness on the 2017 Eagles roster, here it is. Cornerback could be an adventure.

At least this isn't anything new. In 2015, when the team trotted out Nolan Carroll and Byron Maxwell, fans probably thought things couldn't get worse in 2016. They were wrong. Last year, the struggles continued with a combination of Leodis McKelvin, Carroll, Ron Brooks and rookie Jalen Mills.

The good news is the Eagles might finally have some young talent to keep around for a while. Mills, a seventh-rounder last season, got valuable playing time and this year, the team drafted Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas in the second and third rounds. Jones is still recovering from his Achilles injury, but Douglas could figure into the rotation early.

The team also added veteran Patrick Robinson and brought back Brooks, C.J. Smith and Aaron Grymes.

During the spring, Mills, Robinson and Douglas worked with the first team, but defensive backs coach Cory Undlin said there isn't anything decided yet.

“It’s just going to be who’s going to step up here in training camp and through the preseason," Undlin said. "Who’s going to say, 'Listen, I’m starting here, I’m starting here, I’m going to play the nickel,' and then here’s the backups. 

"I like them all right now and we’ll find out how it goes down, and that’s what this whole [offseason] is for, to find out who’s going to rise to the top and who’s going to earn a spot and take it and then hopefully can keep it. We’ll see how that goes."

During the spring, Mills and Robinson worked as the Eagles' cornerbacks in the team's base package. And in the nickel, Mills pushed inside and Douglas took his spot outside. That is the same type of role Brooks had during training camp with the Eagles last season.

Brooks is sort of the forgotten man, coming off a serious leg injury that ended his 2016 season early. He was the team's primary nickel corner last season and when he went down, the team was forced to play Malcolm Jenkins in the slot, which meant putting Jaylen Watkins on the field as a safety.

While Undlin was hesitant to name starters at the end of the spring, it seems likely the Eagles will give Mills every opportunity to keep one of those starting gigs. After that, there are a bunch of guys in the mix for the three jobs.