When Rodney McLeod went down with his torn MCL in Week 3, it put Jim Schwartz and the rest of the defensive coaches in a tight spot. The team was (and still is) without Chris Maragos, and only had Corey Graham as the only real option to take McLeod’s spot. Graham played a key role as the team’s third safety, so with Graham moving to Free Safety, a hole was left where Graham would play. Schwartz knew he had to either sign a Safety off the streets or move a Cornerback from their position to the Safety group. He ultimately decided to move Avonte Maddox to Safety, and so far that decision has been a success.
In fact, Maddox has been playing so well, that he has taken McLeod’s role over, pushing Graham back to the role he is most comfortable in as the third Safety on the field. When asked this about Maddox’s shift to his new role, Eagles Defensive Backs coach Cory Undlin had nothing but praise for the rookie.
“Some of the things he’s done in the last two weeks, it’s like wow, the guy has stepped in there without hesitation….He didn’t even blink. He’s had thousands of reps throughout OTAs, training camp … he played [at nickel cornerback] for the last eight months, so for him to go back in there and not even blink was great to see.”
If Maddox continues to impress in his new role, he might force the front office into a tough decision. McLeod has been a key part of the Eagles defense the past two season, but will have a cap hit of ~$10 Million in 2019 and 2020. With Carson Wentz expected to sign a mega-contract in the near future, the Eagles will need all the cap space they can get. On the other hand Maddox is signed through 2021, and his cap hit will be less than $1 Million each season.
The Eagles might need Maddox to return to Cornerback next season though, especially if Ronald Darby leaves in Free Agency. Darby leaving would leave a spot for Sidney Jones on the outside, and Maddox could become the team’s slot Cornerback in 2019.
This upcoming offseason could have a lot of turnover for the Eagles. Everything will depend on how the rest of the 2018 season pans out.