NFL Free Agency 2019: A Comprehensive Look at Eagles' Cornerbacks

Reuben Frank, Dave Zangaro and Andrew Kulp continue the 2019 edition of Stay or Go, trying to figure out the future of the Eagles. 

Today, we'll look at cornerbacks. 

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Jalen Mills

Roob: Mills is in the unusual spot of having to fight for a job a year after being a starter on a Super Bowl team. There are several reasonable scenarios where Mills won't get his starting job back. Even if Maddox moves to safety, it's possible to imagine Jones and Douglas outside and LeBlanc in the slot. But Mills is a tough, physical, experienced corner on a rookie seventh-round contract (cheap). At worst he'll be a backup.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: That foot injury happened before the bye week and it apparently kept getting worse. As much as fans ripped Mills earlier in the season, he's a Jim Schwartz favorite. It's amazing to think he's entering the fourth year of his rookie contract in 2019. As a seventh-round pick, he's still making peanuts. Even if he loses his starting job, which I don't see, he's back. 

Verdict: Stays 

Kulp: Fans love to get on Mills' case, but if you look around the league, he really isn't bad. The Eagles have certainly shown a bunch of confidence in the guy. Now, I think Mills' starting job is up for grabs after an injury-shortened season opened the door to competition, and if he's the odd man out, an August trade might make sense with free agency looming. Until then at least, he'll be in the mix.

Verdict: Stays

Ronald Darby

Roob: There's no denying Darby's skill. He's only 25 and is going to have a fine career. But he's also played only 17 games the last two years, and I don't see the Eagles getting into a bidding war over an oft-injured free agent corner when they have an abundance of talented corners under contract. If Darby's price keeps falling, go for it. Otherwise, I don't see it happening.

Verdict: Goes

Dave: Darby is one of the injured Eagles coming off an injury who it would make sense to re-sign. So if he doesn't get a deal elsewhere and wants to come back, by all means if it's cheap enough. But will the other young corners on the roster and with the chance the Eagles add a draft pick, I'm not confident he'll be back. 

Verdict: Goes

Kulp: I never got the sense Darby's departure was automatic. Yet, similar to Mills, his injury created opportunities for others to shine. The difference? Darby is a free agent. The Eagles no longer appear to need him, especially coming off of a torn ACL. Only 25 with a pretty good body of work, he should fetch some decent coin on a prove-it deal somewhere else.

Verdict: Goes

Sidney Jones

Roob: I still don't know what the Eagles have in Jones, who we just haven't seen healthy enough for long enough to get an idea what kind of player he is. My thing about Sidney is he's 22 years old, he was considered a first-round prospect this time two years ago and it's way too early to dismiss him. He's going to be one of the most scrutinized guys in camp next summer. Excited to see what he can do.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: I wrote about it during the season, but it still holds true. Anyone who is calling Jones a bust seriously needs to pump the brakes. He was a second-round pick for a reason and missed his rookie season with that Achilles tear. Then he had a hamstring injury. He's been hurt for what was really his rookie season. And I thought he actually played well in the nickel spot early in the year. Give the kid a chance. 

Verdict: Stays

Kulp: People need to realize this was essentially Jones' rookie season. He played one game in 2017 after rehabbing all year from a ruptured Achilles tendon. Expectations are high, but the kid doesn't need to be on a Hall of Fame trajectory after 10 games. Although the continuous stream of injuries is becoming concerning, Jones is turning 22. His critics should chill.

Verdict: Stays

Cre'Von LeBlanc

Roob: What a remarkable story. Went from the scrap heap to the practice squad to playing at such a high level in the by the end of the season that Pro Football Focus had him as the highest-rated corner in the entire postseason. LeBlanc really took ownership of the slot for the Eagles, and I don't see him giving it up any time soon.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: LeBlanc was a revelation during the 2018 season. He was claimed off waivers from the Bears and played so well down the stretch, I think the nickel corner job ought to be his to lose. He's making $720,000 for 2019, which is a huge bargain. 

Verdict: Stays

Kulp: Not sure the last time we've seen a player come from total obscurity and absolutely lock down a job in such a short amount of time. LeBlanc was plucked off waivers in November, and by the end of the season, there was pretty much no question he's going to be the slot corner in 2019.

Verdict: Stays

Avonte Maddox

Roob: Like Douglas and LeBlanc, Maddox just kept getting better and better each week. He had a tough postseason, but you could definitely see the ability wherever he played - outside corner, slot, safety. For a 22-year-old fourth-round rookie, his confidence and production were remarkable. There's a spot for him somewhere next year. The only question is where.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: He started to get picked on a little in the playoffs, but Maddox had a tremendous rookie season. He played well at three positions as a fourth-round pick and the Eagles desperately needed him. He's back for Year 2 in 2019. 

Verdict: Stays 

Kulp: Guessing the Maddox hype train lost some steam after hitting a rough patch down the stretch. Still, strong rookie season. A fourth-round pick once imagined as a pure slot guy, Maddox performed well on the outside, as well as at safety where he might wind up carving out a niche next year in a surprisingly crowded secondary.

Verdict: Stays

Rasul Douglas

Roob: If you asked me two months ago I would have thought Douglas didn't fit into the Eagles' plans. He was struggling, he couldn't get on the field and you really wondered if the Eagles had wasted a third-round pick. But Douglas blossomed the second half of the season and looking at it now, I've got him penciled in as one of my outside starters next year.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: When the Eagles' secondary was in disarray, it was Douglas who stepped in and provided some stability. Heading into Year 3, he's earned the right to battle for a starting cornerback job in 2019. 

Verdict: Stays 

Kulp: Tired of hearing about Douglas moving to safety. For one, I'm not sure it's a fit. More importantly, he's a decent corner. Douglas looked horrendous when he was first inserted into the lineup last season, but by the end, he was the Eagles' most reliable cover man outside the numbers. Finished the regular season with a team-high three interceptions and was fourth with 57 tackles - he only started seven games!

Verdict: Stays

Josh Hawkins

Roob: Hawkins was put in a very tough position in the playoff game against the Saints, forced to play significant snaps just a month after joining the Eagles' practice squad and a week after being activated. Drew Brees went right after him, and the results weren't pretty. I'd still expect the Eagles to give Hawkins a look during the summer. We've seen so many other young corners come so far under Cory Undlin Hawkins will get every chance to do the same. But he's facing an uphill battle.

Verdict: Goes

Dave: I almost felt bad for Hawkins in the divisional round game. He got thrown out there and didn't really have a chance. He should be back in camp, but I think it's going to be tough for him to make the roster. 

Verdict: Goes 

Kulp: Not even looking at Hawkins on his own merit, the Eagles are actually deep at cornerback. If somebody is cracking this group, it's probably not the guy who showed up in December and, when pressed into action against the Saints, was completely out of his depth.

Verdict: Goes 

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