Eagles free agency: Ranking the top safeties potentially entering the pool

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 25: Jessie Bates III #30 of the Cincinnati Bengals celebrates after an interception against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on September 25, 2022 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 25: Jessie Bates III #30 of the Cincinnati Bengals celebrates after an interception against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on September 25, 2022 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images) /

The Eagles will see a lot of big names in the free-agent market at the safety position.

The Philadelphia Eagles‘ defense is going to look a little different next season as many of their impending free agents play on that side of the ball. Both of their starting safeties, Chauncey Gardner-Johnson and Marcus Epps are scheduled to hit the free-agent market in March. No one wants to see C.J. go. It appears that he won’t.

It’s been reported that Philly will place the franchise tag on him if an extension can’t be reached. This after he recorded 67 tackles with six interceptions in 12 regular-season games and helped Philly qualify for the Super Bowl.

The franchise tag would keep him in an Eagles uniform for at least another year as both sides try to work out an extension.

Epps registered 94 tackles and one forced fumble in 17 games with Philadelphia this past season, so if the Birds lose him, they’ll have a huge hole to fill.

It’s doubtful the Birds would spend big money on TWO safeties, but just for the sale of argument, 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 off-season, and now the free agent is looking to cash in after posting a combined 91 tackles with four interceptions in the regular season and post-season.

If Philly is looking for consistency, Jessie is their guy because he is either near or over 100 tackles in his five-year career. There’s just one question. What happens if the Bengals franchise him again?

2. Jordan Poyer, Buffalo Bills

One of Buffalo’s steady veteran forces for six seasons has been safety Jordan Poyer. Despite being one of the older safeties (31) on this list, he still produces at a high level.

He earned 63 tackles, and one 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’ll be looking to notch more than that this time around.

If Philly was to land him, this would be his second stint in midnight green as he was drafted by the team in the seventh round of the 2013 NFL Draft.

3. Taylor Rapp, Los Angeles Rams

After having his season cut short in 2020 due to injury, Taylor Rapp has returned with a vengeance over these two last seasons with 186 tackles, 1.5 sacks, two fumble recoveries, and six interceptions.

Rapp is not only one of the most consistent tacklers on this list, but he is also still young at only 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 menace to opposing offenses this year. He racked up 77 tackles, one sack, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, and four interceptions.

In his four seasons with the Bengals, he had always had a nose for the football and making the big plays for the team. In total, he’s forced eight fumbles. He has also racked up 1.5 sacks and five interceptions.

5. Jimmie Ward, San Francisco 49ers

When he is healthy, Jimmie Ward can be one of the best safeties in the NFL, but he has only played two full seasons in his nine-year career.

During the past two, he has added 121 tackles, one forced fumble, and five interceptions to his resume during 28 games. If the Eagles do go after him, it should be by way of a short-term contract because of his health concerns.

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 posted a career-high in tackles in the 2022 season with 102, but the opposing quarterbacks had their way with him last year. Maybe a change of scenery will help the former Penn State star.

Thornhill was an important part of Kansas City’s secondary on their Super Bowl run, as he recorded 71 tackles, one sack, and three interceptions in 17 games.

After having a career-high of 99 tackles, Nasir Adderley took a dip 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 sign Adderley, as he played his college ball at the University of Delaware.

Harmon is the oldest guy on the list at 32 years old, but he still had a very productive year for the Raiders with 86 tackles, two forced fumbles, and two interceptions.

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