Eagles lose another defensive starter as Marcus Epps signs with Raiders

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According to NFL Network’s Tom Pellicero, the Eagles lost their third defensive starter in the span of six hours on Monday evening when safety Marcus Epps agreed to contract terms with the Raiders.

Earlier in the day, TJ Edwards signed with the Bears and Javon Hargrave signed with the 49ers. The Eagles also lost offensive lineman Andre Dillard, their first-round pick in 2019, on Monday.

Pelissero reported that Epps’ deal with the Raiders was worth $12 million over two years, with $8 million guaranteed.

That’s a lot for Epps, who is a good, smart, stable player but not an elite defensive back. Epps, originally a 6th-round pick of the in 2019, earned $2.72 million over the last three years with the Eagles.

Epps was a favorite of former defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon, who is the Cards’ head coach. If Gannon was still here, the Eagles would have more urgency to -sign players like Epps and Edwards.

But at $6 million per year, it’s hard to envision the Eagles at their current salary cap state matching that kind of deal for EPS. Safeties are among the lowest paid players in the NFL and an average EPS of $6 million would make him the 24th highest paid safety in the league, according to Spotrac.

In his first season as a full-time starter, Epps played 1,096 snaps last year, most of them on defense.

In four seasons, the last 3 1/2 with the Eagles, Epps has played in 62 games and started 25, all with the Eagles. He has three interceptions – two in 2020, one in 2021 – with no sacks and one forced fumble, this past year.

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With Epps gone, the Eagles are at risk of losing both their starting safeties to a Super Bowl and the NFL’s No. 2 defense. Chauncey Gardner-Johnson is also a free agent and could be in line for a deal north of $12 million per year, a figure the Eagles probably can’t match.

Despite joining the Eagles after training camp and playing in just 12 games, Gardner-Johnson shares the NFL interception lead with six.

Reid Blankenship, who played very well while CJGJ was out, will likely be one of the starting safeties in 2023. The only other safeties on the roster are Ke’Veon Wallace, who has started seven games in his three seasons, and Andre Cousins, who was in and out of the roster and practice squad last season.

The Eagles haven’t drafted a safety in the first three rounds since Jaquan Jarrett was traded out of Temple in 2011. He was released two weeks into his second season.

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