Eagles Can Target Jairus Byrd and TJ Ward

WardTJ Ward was not tagged by the Cleveland Browns Monday and along with Jairus Byrd could rank high on the Eagles free agent shopping list at perhaps their biggest hole defensively as free agency is set to open next Tuesday. (Image courtesy of Cleveland.com)

Monday was a good day for general manager Howie Roseman and the Eagles.

On the deadline for teams to use either their franchise or transition player tags, Roseman and every other GM in the league got word that both Buffalo's Jairus Byrd and Cleveland's TJ Ward will hit the open market when free agency opens next Tuesday. 

Safety of course has been this organization's white whale since Brian Dawkins was allowed to walk away without a contract offer in hand to the Denver Broncos in 2009. 

That could very well change by next week.

Contrary to previous belief, both Byrd and Ward escaped being tagged by either Buffalo or Cleveland and the Eagles are positioned nicely to have their pick of the top two safeties available. 

If Roseman and company truly target Byrd, they will need to be prepared to pay a steep price for the services of perhaps the best all-around safety in the game. 

Byrd, 27, who played college ball while Chip Kelly was the offensive coordinator at Oregon is a three-time Pro Bowler.

Meanwhile, Ward specializes in being 'an extra linebacker' building his reputation as one of the top safeties in run support across the league and is also adept at getting to the quarterback in a similar fashion to the way the late Jim Johnson used to utilize Dawkins in the blitz game. 

In four years with the Browns Ward has averaged just over 85 tackles and one sack per season. 

Like Byrd, Ward played one season under Kelly at Oregon.

These are the top two safties in the game and will certainly draw interest from teams across the league. However, even after taking care of their own in advance of the market opening, the Eagles still have roughly $21 million in cap space.

Few teams are as well positioned as the Eagles are to make a play for either one or both of these marquee players that would shore up the biggest hole in Billy Davis' defense. 

Matt Lombardo is the Editor-In-Chief of Eagledelphia and also an on-air personality on 97.5 FM The Fanatic in Philadelphia. Join the conversation and follow Matt on Twitter.
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