Philadelphia Eagles: Another cornerback option comes off the board

(Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for SiriusXM )
(Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for SiriusXM ) /

Unless something changes in a hurry, the Philadelphia Eagles are going to enter the 2022 NFL Draft without a clear player penciled in at CB2 opposite Darius Slay and Avonte Maddox.

Now granted, that isn’t the worst-case scenario or a dire situation that can’t be overcome. There are two cornerbacks that most talent evaluators feel are marquee level talents who could theoretically fall to the Birds at 15 in Sauce Gardner and Derek Stingley Jr., and as many as three others – Trent McDuffie, Andrew Booth, and Kaiir Elam – who have a better chance of still being there at 15, 16, and maybe even 19, depending on how things shake out.

If one of those five players ends up in midnight green this fall, the Eagles should be able to weather this perceived free agent faux pas without much issue, as all five are more pro-ready than the team’s other options and should be able to perform close enough to the level of Steven Nelson to make up for his absence. But when you consider just how often the Eagles have had to turn to reserve cornerbacks to play meaningful minutes over the past few years, the idea of entering the season with an undermanned defensive backfield is a potentially massive oversight.

Could the Philadelphia Eagles still secure a veteran cornerback in time for April 28th? You bet, and as 2021 proved, starting-caliber cornerbacks can still be found well into the summer, but if they want a player ideally suited for Jonathan Gannon’s scheme, they’d better get to signing, as more good options are coming off the board by the day.

Patrick Peterson’s interest in the Philadelphia Eagles proved for not.

Unlike many of the free agents who turned down Howie Roseman’s money for other opportunities, Patrick Peterson actually seemed like he wanted to join the Philadelphia Eagles.

He talked about his appreciation of Jonathan Gannon’s scheme, has experience playing in Mike Zimmer’s defense, and has even been a friend of Darius Slay for some time now, a player who has been quietly recruiting for the team since coming to the City of Brotherly Love in 2020. Factor in the, um, fact that Peterson should have been a member of the Eagles all along, as the 2011 NFL lockout robbed Philadelphia of a decade of Pro Bowl cornerback play, and you’re left with a wonderful narrative both on and off the field.

And yet, unless something seriously changes over the next nine-ish months, we will not see Peterson in a midnight green uniform this year – or potentially even a Kelly Green uniform in 2023 – as he just signed a new contract with the Minnesota Vikings to return to the team for a second season.

While we don’t know how much Peterson will be paid for his new contract – Minnesota gave him a one-year, $8 million deal in 2021 – it’s hard to imagine the Eagles couldn’t have snuck his contract onto the books heading into the draft if they so chose, and avoided having to reach for a player that maybe isn’t ready to go in time for Week 1. Matt Rhule’s Carolina Panthers had six different cornerbacks start at least one game during the 2021 season, and the Eagles followed close behind with five of their own having their names announced on national television. Even if the Birds can land a player like, say, McDuffie, they’ll be just one poorly planted leg away from either Zech McPhearson or Tay Gowen having to play meaningful snaps for an indefinite period of time.

Considering how much the Eagles value backup quarterbacks, you’d think they’d be a bit more invested in having a quality cornerbacks corps, especially since the position has been the downfall of more than a few of their recent seasons.

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Fortunately for the Philadelphia Eagles, there are still a number of quality cornerbacks left on the free agent market who could fill the same role as Steven Nelson in 2021, players like Kyle Fuller, A.J. Bouye, and Steven Nelson himself. Once the 2022 NFL Draft is officially in the books, Howie Roseman will have a better idea of what his depth chart looks like heading into 2022 and will be able to fill out the room with another veteran capable of giving a rookie some competition for early-season snaps. But the player they sign won’t be Patrick Peterson, which is a bummer, because he genuinely seemed like he wanted to join his pal Darius Slay in South Philly.