Should the Eagles Pursue Free Safety Antrel Rolle?

Written By Bob Cunningham On Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Would Rolle be a good fit in McDermott's defense?

Due to his large cap number, no one expects Antrel Rolle to be in Arizona next season. In fact, due to a $4 million roster bonus he's due to receive next week, he probably won't be there for that long.

Now I don't want to start a trend where we talk about the Birds pursuing every free safety who hits the market, but in this case they need to take a close look at Rolle. He's been a very good free safety since coming into the league, even on the poor defenses the Cardinals have had.

His size (6'0, 202) allows him to play around the box the same way Brian Dawkins used to, or drop back and play coverage like a traditional safety. He's very good at doing both, coming down with interceptions and wrapping up 70-80 solo tackles in each of the past two seasons.

Well-established 28-year old free safeties aren't hitting the market on a consistent basis, and with that being the case the Eagles have to at least reach out to Rolle and see what kind of numbers he'll want.

And there is where we run into a possible problem.

Rolle is going to be cut because of an $8 million base salary and $4 million roster bonus due next week. He knows this as well as the guys making the decision, but still has refused to take a pay cut.

It doesn't necessarily mean that he's going to be asking that much on the market, but it wouldn't be shocking for him to ask far more than what the Eagles -- or any other team -- is willing to pay. He might not understand that safeties just don't get the big money that corners get, and he could sit in free agency for a while before he drops his asking price.

As far as base salary goes, Adrian Wilson, Rolle's partner in the secondary, was the highest paid safety in the league with a base salary of $5.5 million (other than OJ Atogwe who was playing on the franchise tag).

That could be the reason Rolle is refusing to take a pay-cut, but either way, $5 million seems to be the ceiling for safeties.

With that in mind, a multi-year deal for Rolle at about $3.5-4 million per season with a decent amount of guaranteed money could bring him to Philly.

It would be a pleasant change of pace to once again have a free safety who can hit, and actually will hit somebody. The physical play from Quintin Demps, Sean Jones, or Macho Harris was nonexistent and it gave teams a sense of comfort when going over the middle.

With Rolle and Quintin Mikell back there, they will instantly make each other, and the entire defense, better.

The Birds could also keep Sheldon Brown at corner and turn their attention to more pressing issues on defense such as a pass-rushing left end and some linebackers.

Players who are cut before March 5th are fair game (as far as I know), so the Birds could get a jump-start and sign him before free agency kicks off, allowing themselves to target someone like Julius Peppers with all their resources on hand.

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