Although the Eagles lost a key contributor in Malcolm Jenkins, the secondary has shifted into a new form following the conclusion of 2019.

Philly’s secondary has been shuffled around season after season, but 2020 might bring the most substantial change. Howie Roseman and the company made some significant signings that can make or break a re-tooled backend for the Birds.

Jalen Mills


Mills was brought back to Philly on a one-year deal, worth up to $5 million. Incentives in the contract conclude that Mills will now be playing Safety, instead of Cornerback. Although Mills did see limited action last year after overcoming a year-long foot injury, his play was impactful snagging an interception and 41 tackles over a nine-game span. Mills was drafted in the seventh round of the 2016 NFL Draft out of LSU. While in college Mills played Safety, in addition to Corner. The Eagles admire the versatility that Mills offers, making it a simple decision for him to transition into a Malcolm Jenkins type of role. Mills stated on Instagram Live, that is how the coaching staff plans to utilize his strengths moving forward. As we have seen time and time again, Mills may not be the team’s best option covering a receiver mano a mano. The move to Safety allows Mills to take sit back and diagnose what an offense is trying to do, then read and react to the situations at hand.

GM also Howie Roesman acknowledges Mill’s work ethic and leadership ability in a recent interview with Dave Spadaro. Roseman revealed that a player like Mills is someone the Eagles value.

Rodney McLeod

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Rodney McLeod re-signed on a two-year $12 million agreement. McLeod has been a member of the Birds since signing from the (at the time) St. Louis Rams in 2016. While McLeod has played opposite of Jenkins for his entire tenure, the Eagles expect #23 to man the defense in his absence. McLeod has eight interceptions alongside four forced fumbles, and 223 total tackles from the Free Safety spot in midnight green. McLeod also played well in 2019 coming off of an ACL injury. Bringing back McLeod establishes continuity to the Eagles back-end.

The Eagles can expect McLeod to flourish as the new commander in chief of the secondary. Don’t be surprised if McLeod trots out with a “C” on his jersey next season.

Darius Slay

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Slay should be considered the “Big Fish” of this secondary. Some may even go as far to consider Slay as the “Missing Link” for this unit.

Slay’s reputation as a shutdown CB will give the Birds something they have been lacking for over a decade. Even though the Eagles did have to surrender third and fifth-round picks to trade for Slay, the team should see a substantial return on investment. Jim Schwartz’s scheme called for the Eagles defense to play man coverage on 53.7% of snaps last season, an area that Slay excels in. Slay should be able to travel the opposing team’s best receiver, as he did almost every game in Detroit. Expect the Eagles to play more press-coverage in 2020 since Slay is now on board. When evaluating the trade, Roseman also mentioned Slays’s ability to take the ball away, which is another trait the Eagles defense has been lacking. Slay’s 19 career interceptions should help an Eagles defense that ranked 19th against the past in 2019.

Further details on Slay’s signing and overall fit in Philly can be found here.

Will Parks


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“Philly Will” makes his return home to the city of brotherly love by way of a one-year contract $1.5 million. Parks has embraced the Eagles fanbase and has stated his excitement to play for the team. Parks has expressed his admiration for the Eagles organization, and also shared a story about Brian Dawkins:

“Brian Dawkins is one of my favorite safeties ever,” Parks said Tuesday. “I could name so many people on the Eagles that I’ve watched that I could tell you about, but Brian Dawkins is definitely one of my favorite people in the world, and actually when we came to play the Eagles in 2017 and I walked on the field for pre-game warmups, he was the first person I met. First-person I met over there. And then he hit me up when I finally decided I was coming here.”

The Denver Broncos selected Will Parks in the 2016 NFL Draft. The sixth-round selection out of Arizona has accumulated four interceptions and 13 pass break-ups as a rotational Safety. Roseman also expressed in his press conference that Jim Schwartz likes to utilize the third Safety in his defensive scheme. Parks has also put it work on Special Teams, an area the Eagles are looking to improve in after finishing 19th in the league last season.

With Mills in a more versatile role expect “Philly Will” to see substantial snaps in the secondary.

Nickell Robey Coleman

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Nickell Robey-Coleman comes in on another one-year deal, worth up to $1.3 million. The latest signing may be the most intriguing. Robey-Coleman lives up to his (first) name by being one of the most productive Nickel Corners in the league. Robey-Coleman has a reputation as a “feisty” player, despite his 5’8 frame. During his last three seasons with the Los Angeles Rams, Robey-Coleman snagged three interceptions from the slot position. Philly initially wanted to sign Robey-Coleman during his first departure Free Agency from the Buffalo Bills, but L.A ultimately ended up acquiring his services.

Reports indicate that the outside Cornerback spot opposite of Slay is Avonte Maddox’s job to lose. Maddox had an impressive showing as an outside option over an eight-game stretch in 2018. Despite showing flashes in the slot, the Birds have hope in Maddox as a “CB2” moving forward. With rumbles of Rasul Douglas possibly being on the move, this favors Robey-Coleman to start in the slot next season.

Lo and behold this Eagles secondary is much improved from 2019. The Birds hope to better their defense against the pass, as the unit ranked 19th in the league last year.
Should we go as far as to say that it is actually FIXED?

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