The Philadelphia Eagles are trying to plug a lot of defensive holes as free agency starts. The Eagles have already rebuilt their cornerback slots by signing Bradley Fletcher and Cary Williams, while Connor Barwin received a six-year, $36 million deal to lead the defensive line. As for safety, Philadelphia is turning to an injury-prone, former New York Giant for a boost.
Kenny Phillips had been with the Giants for five years, yet has fought injuries for most of his career. But the Eagles still signed him to a one-year deal on March 14, to go along with the three-year deal they made for Williams and the six-year deal for Barwin on the same day.
Out of this trio of newcomers, Phillips is the least heralded, although he fills a need in a valuable position. Philadelphia hasn’t had a reliable safety since Brian Dawkins was allowed to leave in 2009. For Phillips to come close, he has to stay healthy, which he couldn’t do last year when he only played seven games.
His strongest season was in 2011 when he had four interceptions and the Giants won the Super Bowl. In a way, Phillips is like Barwin, who had a great season in 2011 before slumping off in 2012 as well. But Barwin hasn’t been as injury prone and got a six-year deal from the Eagles, whereas Phillips is just a one-year risk.
In any case, Phillips isn’t the only new safety the Eagles picked up this week. Philadelphia also signed Patrick Chung away from the New England Patriots, with intentions to put him in the starting lineup right away. As for Phillips, he will likely compete with Nate Allen for the second starting safety spot.
If anything, the Eagles have been building up depth in weak positions like safety, cornerback and quarterback over the last month. Yet having depth means nothing if it isn’t built up with the right people. As Philadelphia learned from the failures of Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, there are no guaranteed slam dunks in free agency.
Perhaps giving someone like Phillips a second chance will work better for the Eagles than their bigger moves have. At the least, unlike Williams and Barwin, Phillips doesn’t have as much time to reward Philadelphia’s faith.