Throughout the offseason, Philadelphia Eagles GM Howie Roseman and head coach Nick Sirianni had expressed confidence in one of their biggest perceived weaknesses: the safety depth chart. However, after spending a couple of weeks in OTA workouts, the Eagles decided to buy some insurance for the much-maligned group.
On Friday, the Eagles agreed to terms with veteran safety Jaquiski Tartt on a one-year deal. The former second-round pick spent the first seven seasons of his career with the San Francisco 49ers. Now, the 30-year-old will provide a proven skill set in the Eagles’ defensive backfield.
Why Jaquiski Tartt provides insurance for Eagles’ biggest weak spot
Roseman was aggressive throughout the offseason, upgrading several spots with shrewd transactions in free agency and calculated shopping in April’s NFL Draft. The longtime GM has added first-round pick Jordan Davis, veteran pass rusher Haason Reddick, former Pro Bowl cornerback James Bradberry and ascending linebacker Kyzir White to the defense ahead of OTAs.
With upgrades at four major positions in just one offseason, the Eagles looked like a much-improved defense with a clear weak spot at safety.
It’s tough to fill every hole in one offseason, but Roseman, through patience and persistence, as well as some added belief in his homegrown talent, has seemingly done that with the addition of Tartt.
Tartt is a veteran starter, and while he fits the profile of Anthony Harris from a year ago, there should be a much less urgent outlook for him, given that Harris is back and the staff has a lot of confidence in Marcus Epps, an ascending fourth-year player. The three safeties all have versatility, so they could have an open three-way competition for two spots.
The Eagles play a lot of zone coverage, and they want their safeties to be able to play both positions on the back end, which fits Tartt’s profile. Tartt and Harris have plenty of experience at both spots, while Epps is probably best suited at free safety.
That said, if Tartt plays well at either spot, he and Harris could be interchangeable. If Epps excels at free safety, Harris can man strong safety and Tartt can be a mixed puzzle piece in dime or nickel coverage.
Ideally, the Eagles would have Harris man strong safety and Epps would beat out Tartt for the other spot, giving them a proven versatile player behind the starting group. At 6-foot-1 and 215 pounds, Tartt is a big safety who could relieve Harris or Epps on obvious running plays. He is a quality blitzer at the position and he has four interceptions during his career.
With Tartt on the roster, the Eagles will probably keep four players at the position, so the competition for a roster spot just became a lot more difficult in the secondary. Former fourth-round pick K’Von Wallace will need to continue to thrive on special team to make the squad.
The addition of Tartt gives the secondary plenty of experience, which was lacking just a few weeks ago. With Tartt and Bradberry in the lineup, along with Harris, No. 1 cornerback Darius Slay and nickel cornerback Avonte Maddox, the Eagles have a proven handful of players in the defensive backfield.
With all of the ammunition the team has in its front seven, that could lead to an improvement in takeaways and sacks in Jonathan Gannon’s second year as defensive coordinator.