Patience and vision: The Eagles’ plan brought in a proven veteran

Building an NFL roster takes so much vision. A skill relating to a series of events unfolding. The ability to look at a position, for example, and understand the market around it. Patience to allow it while being aggressive throughout this month-long sequence to get a real-time feel of how the rest of the league is buying – or selling.

In case you missed it, the Eagles have an experienced one Friday in Jaquiski Tartt, a 6-foot-1, 215-pound player who started 64-of-80 games in the seven seasons he played 64-of-80 games Added safety to their defensive backline With San Francisco since the 49ers, he was drafted a second round in the 2015 NFL Draft. In 2021, Tartt started all 14 games he played in the regular season and all three playoff games, logging 100 percent of defensive snaps for an outstanding postseason unit. Tartt is a proven player who also started for San Francisco in the Super Bowl 54 run that ended in a bitter loss to the Chiefs in the 2019 season.

Tartt also showed versatility with the 49ers, playing both free safety and strong safety during his time there. He’s tall and athletic and experienced, and he started out on the biggest stage in the game. What he brings to the Eagles is all of that, adding depth and some great training camp competition in a position that really can’t have enough players. Two starters safe? Sure, but three is way better, as the Eagles found out last season when their three-man squad of Anthony Harris, Rodney McLeod and Marcus Epps played so well for a defense that only allowed 117 explosive games, least in the NFC and tied for fifth least in the entire league.

We’ll see how it all plays out as Tartt comes in and learns defense and works with Harris and Epps and a big handful of promising young players who like the Eagles. This is a 90 man roster so spots are valuable, valued and maximized. A 17-game schedule will challenge every part of the roster and then some, as practice team players are also extremely valuable and valued resources. It takes a lot more than 53 players – actually it’s closer to 70 – to get through a season. I overheard Howie Roseman and Nick Sirianni addressing an audience of players with the message that everyone is there for a reason. Every single one of them is important. Each and every one of them is counted on to play their best football with the goal – so lofty – of having a squad where every player is a first-class player.

Tartt is a starting class player. And adding a starting caliber player in the middle of the generally quiet month of June requires some research and some understanding of how well Roseman and his HR team played the roster game correctly.

If you go back and look at some pre-free agency lists – and who hasn’t in the endlessly long weeks following the 2021 season as we wondered how the Eagles would beef up their roster for hopefully a deep postseason run afterwards? a playoff experience in Sirianni’s first head coaching season? – You can see that the security position was oversupplied. Pro Football Focus introduced this list of safeties to the market, only jokingly highlighting the impressive depth of the talent. NFL.com had a list of its top 101 free agents-to-be and the safety position was heavily emphasized.

The point here isn’t to discuss actual placements, but to acknowledge that there was some outstanding talent on the loose. The Eagles went to work on their own roster and predicted the market for those players. They knew some would leave early when free agency opened up and sign big deals. Some would linger and test the market and see what’s out there while teams debated signing veterans or investing in the position via the NFL draft. And some, the Eagles knew, would slip through the cracks.

Philadelphia reprized Harris early in free agency with a one-year contract. Harris, who started and played well for the Eagles last season, dipped his toe in the free agency market. He saw what the league saw and figured his best shot at success was to return to Philadelphia with a rising team in Jonathan Gannon’s defense. Deal closed and a win for both sides.

Roseman made the most significant move in free agency early on, signing edge rusher Haason Reddick and adding one of the premier pass-rushing powers to a defense that ranked 31st in quarterback sacks in the NFL a season ago. Reddick was a top target for the team. The Eagles grabbed him and then nibbled away, pinning down Harris and a handful of other key players — like running back Boston Scott, like wide receiver Greg Ward, like defensive end Derek Barnett, like defensive back and special teams core player Andre Chachere. They signed wide receiver Zach Pascal in free agency. They added linebacker Kyzir White. They revised the contracts of veterans Jason Kelce and Fletcher Cox to ensure both are good for 2022.

And then the NFL Draft came along and, well, you know what a hit that weekend was. In addition to hitting five picks, the Eagles also traded wide receiver A.J. Brown and promptly signed him to a 2026 contract extension. In the post-draft period, they added cornerback James Bradberry, who prevailed in a crowded field of interested teams. Now it’s Tartt, who started in the NFC Championship Game for San Francisco and had a total of six tackles and had a chance to go to another Super Bowl right there.

As it turned out, if the Eagles had focused their free-hand financial investment on the safety position, in all likelihood they would not have been able to trade for and sign Brown and then add Bradberry and Tartt. Roseman and his associates are reading the security market correctly. There was a vision and an understanding of how everything would play out, and that’s how a deal came about on Friday, with Tartt agreeing to a one-year deal and reuniting with Bradberry – his college teammate at Samford – to defend a player who has since seven NFL seasons, has the versatility Gannon craves, is athletic, and will fit beautifully into a safety picture to watch when training camp begins.

This vision began long before free agency began in March. The Eagles saw the market and played it perfectly, and boom, just like that in the middle of a sleepy week in June (by NFL standards), the defense made an understated move that could pay dividends over the course of a long and grueling NFL season a year 2022.

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