Free agency has been surprisingly quiet for the Philadelphia Eagles thus far, yet the second wave of the NFL offseason may start off with a bang. The Eagles could get an added boost in the secondary if they are able to strike a deal with cornerback Stephon Gilmore, whose wife, Gabrielle, revealed on social media the Eagles called her husband in free agency.
Whether Gilmore reciprocated the interest is yet to be known, but the 2019 NFL Defensive Player of the Year would be badly needed in the secondary. The Eagles have Darius Slay at cornerback, but Steven Nelson is a free agent and the franchise hasn’t shown any indication of bringing him back. Avonte Maddox was re-signed last year and is a better fit in the slot in Jonathan Gannon’s defense, making the need for another outside cornerback even more prominent.
Gilmore had an interesting 2021 season, not playing until he was traded from the New England Patriots to the Carolina Panthers. He had 16 tackles, two interceptions, and three passes defended in nine games, yet still earned a Pro Bowl selection. Opposing quarterbacks targeting Gilmore had just a 57.9 passer rating when he was the primary defender, completing just 60% of their passes and tossing two touchdowns.
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Gilmore had a great year in 2020 (even if he only played 11 games). He was still one of the best cover corners in football, as opposing quarterbacks had just a 66.7 passer rating targeting him while completing 56.3% of their passes targeting him. Teams were still afraid to test Gilmore, targeting him just 48 times — which explains why he only ended up with three passes defended.
Pairing Gilmore with Slay at cornerback would give the Eagles arguably their best cornerback tandem since Asante Samuel, Lito Sheppard, and Sheldon Brown played there in 2008 — even if both Gilmore and Slay are on the north side of 30. This would give the Eagles time to develop a cornerback with a high draft pick this year and give 2021 fourth-round pick Zech McPhearson an extra year to learn Gannon’s scheme.
The Eagles have the cap space to land Gilmore, who would make a defense that added Haason Reddick in free agency instantly better.