Safety remains a sore spot for Eagles

Posted: January 17, 2014

Howie Roseman saw Brian Dawkins at the Eagles' postseason game on Jan. 4, and the sight of the retired safety only reaffirmed to Roseman how difficult it has been to replace him.

The Eagles have been looking for safeties for five years. They're still looking.

"You really appreciated it when he was here, but the longer he's away, you really get more and more appreciation for what a great player he was," Roseman said. "A Hall of Fame-caliber player at a position that's hard to find. We were spoiled for a long time."

After the Eagles let Dawkins leave as a free agent in 2009, they passed on Earl Thomas in the first round of the 2010 draft and selected Nate Allen in the second round. Allen was inconsistent and injury-plagued through his first three seasons in Philadelphia. The 26-year-old hit his stride this season, starting all 16 games and becoming the steadiest safety on the roster. As an unrestricted free agent, his future is uncertain.

"I wasn't out there to prove anybody wrong," Allen said. "Obviously, you hear about it. But I'm just going out there and playing ball, being me."

The second safety spot was in flux throughout much of the season. Patrick Chung underachieved. Earl Wolff could not stay on the field. Kenny Phillips could not even make it to the regular season. Kurt Coleman was relegated to special teams.

Despite the Eagles' success this season, they are in the same spot they were during the last four offseasons. They need to find solutions at safety.

There will be competition on the free-agent market. Two available safeties are Buffalo's Jairus Byrd and Cleveland's T.J. Ward, who were both named second-team all-pros. Both are 27 and both played at Oregon under Chip Kelly.

The Eagles could draft a safety, hoping their evaluations have improved after recent misfires. The development of Wolff, a 2012 fifth-round pick, is important. Plus, Allen could still reach his potential.

Allen met with Roseman on Jan. 6. He hopes to continue his Eagles career.

"Everything was all positive on both sides," Allen said. "I told him I'd love to be back. We'll see what happens."

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