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August 13, 2017

Eagles may have long-term stability at cornerback, at a high cost

During the 2016 offseason, it was clear that the Philadelphia Eagles were looking to find long-term stability for their quarterback position. From 2009 to 2016, the Eagles had six different quarterbacks start on Week 1 of the season. They were Donovan McNabb, Kevin Kolb, Michael Vick, Nick Foles, Sam Bradford, and Carson Wentz. Only the NFL doormat Cleveland Browns started more Week 1 quarterbacks during that span.

MORE ON THE EAGLES: Eagles 2017 training camp practice notes, Day 15 | Eagles trade WR Jordan Matthews and 2018 third-round pick to Bills for CB Ronald Darby | An updated look at the Eagles' depth chart | Philadelphia Eagles 2018 draft picks

The answer to stability at quarterback was Wentz, who the team acquired for the not-so-cheap price of two first round picks, a second round pick, a third round pick, a fourth round pick (they also got a fourth round pick back), as well as Byron Maxwell and Kiko Alonso.

At cornerback, the Eagles have had similar extreme instability, as they will have their ninth different starting cornerback combination in 11 years:

Eagles Week 1 starting cornersCB1CB2
2017 (projected)Ronald Darby Jalen Mills 
2016Leodis McKelvinNolan Carroll
2015Byron MaxwellNolan Carroll
2014Cary WilliamsBradley Fletcher
2013Cary WilliamsBradley Fletcher
2012Nnamdi AsomughaDominique Rodgers-Cromartie
2011Nnamdi AsomughaAsante Samuel
2010Asante SamuelEllis Hobbs
2009Asante SamuelSheldon Brown
2008Asante SamuelSheldon Brown
2007Lito SheppardSheldon Brown

Like they did at quarterback last offseason, this offseason the Eagles put heavy resources toward fixing the cornerback position long-term, spending a second-round pick on Sidney Jones, a third round pick on Rasul Douglas, and then trading Jordan Matthews and a third-round pick to the Buffalo Bills for Ronald Darby.

As a result, the Eagles' top four cornerbacks (from a long-term perspective) have an average age of 22 years old, as well as an average of 3.25 years left on their contracts.

Player Age Years left on contract 
 Sidney Jones21 
 Rasul Douglas21 
 Jalen Mills23 
 Ronald Darby23 
 AVERAGE22 3.25 

"It's kind of a unique opportunity to have a bunch of young corners at that position," said Howie Roseman, shortly after the Eagles announced the trade on Friday. "When you look around the league, it is a corner-deficient league. It's hard to find those guys. It's hard to find guys who have been solid starters in this league, who can play at a high level. Teams that have them aren't really ready to move them. When you get them, you need a bunch of them. It's something that we felt, as well as the quarterback position, offensive line, defensive line, you can never have enough of those guys."

Like with Wentz a year ago, there's certainly no guarantee that this group of young corners will eventually become a position of strength, and it's perhaps even likely that the Eagles will continue to struggle there in 2017. What the Eagles do at least have there now is legitimate reason for optimism that they have found a long-term fix.

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