Philadelphia Eagles: Will Parks’ one-year deal is the steal of free agency

(Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images) /

While free agency is less than a week old, the Philadelphia Eagles have already signed 2020’s biggest steal in do-it-all North Philly safety Will Parks.

Free agency is won on the margins.

Sure, any team can sign a top-tier free agent to a massive contract and sleep soundly at night knowing that they’ve addressed a position of need, but the best teams win by adding undervalued players who play far above their meager contracts. These are the players that allow a team to invest in their bigger name counterparts without having to worry about fielding a lesser player at another position.

Fortunately for fans in the 215, it looks like the Philadelphia Eagles just landed one of, if not the steal of 2020 free agency in do-it-all safety Will Parks.

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A former sixth-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft out of Arizona, Parks comes (back) to Philly after a four-year tenure with the Denver Broncos. While the 6-foot-1, 196-pound safety never established himself as an every-down starter, Parks was active for every game he was healthy for over his rookie contract and found consistent playing time regardless of the scheme he was asked to operate in.

That’s right, over four seasons in the Mile High City, Parks played for three different head coaches, Gary Kubiak, Vance Joseph, or Vic Fangio, and had remained a part of each coach’s plans regardless of how they wanted to play.

Why? Because Parks is beyond versatile.

In 2018, Parks played all over Joseph’s back seven, logging 224 snaps in the box, 198 snaps at free safety, 88 snaps at slot corner, 42 snaps at outside linebacker and even 20 snaps at outside cornerback as per Pro Football Focus. Those numbers are reminiscent of Jenkins’ tenure with the Eagles, albeit on roughly half as many snaps.

Parks is also decent enough in coverage regardless of whether deployed against a tight end, running back or even slot receiver, having only allowed 39 catches on his 65 targets for 497 yards and a 3/2 touchdown to interception ratio.

With Jenkins, Andre Sendejo, and Johnathan Cyprien all gone, it’s not hard to imagine Parks slotting in at third safety in the Eagles’ big nickel package, where he and Mills can roam around the middle of the field as matchup pieces in Jim Schwartz‘s defense.

And best of all, Parks is a Philly native who took less money to play for his hometown team.

A graduate of Germantown High, Parks loves the City of Brotherly Love. He’s a huge fan of Brian Dawkins, Lil Uzi Vet, and held a DB Summit from February 28th-March 1st in Philadelphia a month before he knew where he’d be playing in 2020. Parks is also fully committed to giving back to his city, as in 2018, he donated $15,000 to prevent gun violence through Philadelphia Ceasefire, a non-profit charity.

I guess you don’t earn the Twitter moniker PhillyWill11 for nothing.

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For the low, low price of $1.6 million, Will Parks is almost guaranteed to outplay his contract even if he only plays as a third safety in defensive sub-packages. But I’m of the belief that Parks could be oh so much more. With Malcolm Jenkins officially back in New Orleans, Parks has just as good a chance to steal away the Philadelphia Eagles’ starting strong safety role as Jalen Mills, maybe more so because of his 1,976 snaps playing the position in the NFL. For a third of Mills’ contract, there’s virtually no downside to bringing the 25-year-old back to Philly.