Eagles a ‘Best Fit’ for Four-Time All-Pro, Former NFL GM Says

A starting safety remains one of the biggest needs general manager Howie Roseman and the Philadelphia Eagles still need to fill and could turn to a familiar face to defensive coordinator Vic Fangio to plug the hole.

Even after signing Chauncey Gardner-Johnson early in free agency, Roseman and the Eagles’ defense could benefit from a second veteran on the back end of the secondary.

According to former NFL General Manager and Executive of The Year winner Randy Mueller, four-time Second-Team All-Pro Justin Simmons could be an ideal fit for the Eagles.

“I think the Philadelphia Eagles make sense as a landing spot,” Mueller writes for The Athletic. “With a defense in which Simmons succeeded during his tenure in Denver playing for then-head coach Vic Fangio, now the Eagles’ defensive coordinator.

“The veteran free safety could call the shots and direct a ship that now has two rookie corners, Quinyon Mitchell (Round 1) and Cooper DeJean(Round 2), while teaming up with free-agent signee C.J. Gardner-Johnson, who is still learning the safety position after playing nickel corner the majority of his career. At this point, Simmons might have to take a short-term deal to re-establish his market for 2025, so both sides would have to get creative, but it sure makes sense.”

Last season, Simmons produced 70 total tackles with three interceptions, eight pass breakups, one sack, two forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery, while finishing the 2023 campaign as Pro Football Focus’ No. 42 ranked safety in the league.

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A reunion between Simmons and Fangio could pay significant dividends for the Eagles.

Not only did Simmons have three of the more productive seasons of his career, when Fangio was the Broncos’ head coach from 2019 through 2021, intercepting 14 passes, and logging 1.5 sacks while producing 202 total tackles over the span, but the 30-year-old could play an instrumental role in helping get the younger defensive backs up to speed in Fangio’s scheme.

“I owe a lot of my success to Vic and his staff,” Simmons told the Philadelphia Inquirer after the Eagles hired Fangio. “Because just the way they implemented their defense and made me learn the game in a whole new perspective. “It was a whole new defense, it was a whole new way of learning. So Philadelphia’s got a great one.”

Why a Justin Simmons-Vic Fangio Reunion Makes Sense

Roseman and the Eagles have seemingly placed a premium on adding strong leadership and culture fits into a locker room that backslid from the top of the NFC to losing in the NFC Wild Card Game over the final seven weeks of the 2023 campaign.

Simmons’ relationship with Fangio could separate him, for the Eagles, from the other veteran safeties still available on the open market.

“I was doing an interview a couple of days ago and saying how excited I was to be a part of Vic [Fangio]’s defense,” Simmons told reporters on May 23, 2019. “Looking at the production that he’s had on the safety side of it, is huge. Watching some of the Bears’ film and seeing those guys run around making plays, I had the same feeling similar to when I was coming out of the draft process and watching Denver play in the Super Bowl, it was like ‘That’s a defense I want to be part of.’”

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There was a bit of a mutual admiration society between Simmons and Fangio during their time together with the Broncos, which makes bringing in the veteran safety a plausible solution to the Eagles’ need as the defense undergoes a wholesale makeover.

“Justin’s a great player, and we all know that,” Fangio said in 2021, via the Denver Post. “We love him. He’s definitely a guy we want back in all of our plans and we’d love to have him.”

Can the Eagles Afford to Sign Justin Simmons?

No player has picked off Patrick Mahomes more than Justin Simmons, and it’s not even close. Simmons has 5 career INTs vs Pat … next most is 2.

Oh and Simmons has the most INTs since he came into the league😏#JETS SIGN EM! WE NEED MORE TURNOVERS OR AT LEAST TEACH THE YOUNG… pic.twitter.com/QCUjgwDsUw

— Frankie V (@FrankieVitz) May 8, 2024

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

The Broncos released Simmons on March 7, to clear cap space in the coming seasons, and the fact that he remains available at this late stage of the offseason could make him an affordable option for a team such as the Eagles.

“I think he’s only going to wind up getting a one or two-year deal, max,” an NFL agent tells Heavy, echoing Mueller’s sentiments of Simmons likely singing a “prove-it” deal.

The agent adds that he believes Simmons’ deal may come in somewhere slightly above the veteran minimum. That deal would be worth approximately $1.2 million for veteran players with eight years of service.

Financials shouldn’t be a roadblock, given that the Eagles currently have upwards of $25.24 million in cap space, even after this offseason’s spending spree, according to Spotrac.

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Given the fit, need, and experience with Fangio, Simmons fits the profile of the type of player who could be an ideal fit in the Eagles’ secondary.

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