Eagles' search for safety continues

August, 25, 2013
8/25/13
5:40
PM ET
Is it impossible to find two competent NFL safeties? The Philadelphia Eagles certainly have made it look that way over the past few years.

The release of Kenny Phillips Sunday afternoon, as first reported by Pro Football Talk, continued a sorry trend that began with the departure of the beloved Brian Dawkins after the 2008 season. A team that once prided itself on dominating safeties -- from Bill Bradley and Randy Logan through Wes Hopkins and Andre Waters to Dawkins and Michael Lewis -- just cannot seem to find anyone to play the position.

The roll call is depressing to Eagles fans: Marlin Jackson, O.J. Atogwe, Sean Jones, Macho Harris, Jarrad Page, Jaiquawn Jarrett, Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman.

The latter two started last year in a secondary that surrendered a league-high 33 touchdown passes. General manager Howie Roseman flipped the secondary after the season, parting ways with corners Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and signing four veteran DBs.

Three of them -- safety Patrick Chung and corners Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher -- started Saturday night in Jacksonville and appear to be the starters going into the regular season.

The fourth was Phillips, who had a history of knee trouble. He was unable to play Saturday because of a quad injury. Like Jackson and Atogwe, he was a known injury risk that backfired on the Eagles.

That leaves Allen, who managed to play in 15 games (13 starts) last season without recording an interception, a sack or forcing a fumble. In three seasons, Allen has two sacks and five interceptions -- which would have been a good month for Dawkins.

Rookie Earl Wolff, a fifth-round pick, rotated in with the first team. But he and Chung were embarrassed on a 63-yard touchdown run by Jacksonville’s Jordan Todman.

With Phillips gone, Roseman has few options on the roster. He can scan the waiver wire this week, as teams cut their rosters to 75 by Tuesday and to the final 53 by Saturday.

Or he can attempt a more ambitious solution. Eagles fans are already clamoring for Jairus Byrd, the two-time Pro Bowler who just signed his franchise tender in Buffalo. If the Bills decide to shop the unhappy safety, Roseman should at least consider it.

Byrd and Chung played together at Oregon, where a guy named Chip Kelly was the offensive coordinator.

With the release of Phillips and linebacker Jamar Chaney, who tweeted about being waived, the Eagles' roster was down to 76. It must be at 75 by Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET.

Phil Sheridan

ESPN Philadelphia Eagles reporter

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