Eagles should prioritize defensive signings

The Eagles offseason has been one storyline after another regarding the quarterback.

It is justified, seeing as there is no more important position to the offense. But the saga of Sam Bradford, the mere possibility of actually trying to reacquire Nick Foles and the rest of the scenarios centered around free agency and the Draft are really secondary. 

The Eagles have spent the offseason locking up talent internally. They signed Brent Celek, Zach Ertz and Lane Johnson to extensions on the offensive side. They have also locked up Vinny Curry and now Malcolm Jenkins to long-term deals as well.

The next two that should be in line for the Eagles are Fletcher Cox and Walter Thurmond.

Simply put, Cox is the defensive leader. The Eagles have a player feared across the league and becoming a full-on NFL superstar. A long-term deal is coming, but the Eagles should do what they can to take care of that deal as well, so long as they are working on retaining talent from within.

It is no secret that the Eagles have been working on a potential deal for Cox. While nothing is close, it is clear the Eagles see the same importance in locking up their defensive stud on the line.

While Cox headlines the front seven, the Eagles other defensive priority goes hand in hand with the Eagles most recent extension.

On Monday, the Eagles extended Malcolm Jenkins for five years, retaining the clear leader of the secondary. For a group that has experienced continued struggles over the years, Jenkins had been a solid part of that for two seasons.

The secondary has improved slightly each year in the last two seasons. And last season, the biggest improvement was the addition of Walter Thurmond.

Thurmond, like Jenkins, made the move to safety from the cornerback position and helped the Eagles find some depth and decent success at the position.

What makes these two players important is Jim Schwartz. With a new head coach and new defensive coordinator in town, the Eagles needed to evaluate the potential market and look at how their current players fit. That period is over and it is clear the Eagles have already placed a great emphasis on bringing back a lot of players they feel are fits going forward.

The Eagles really have not found much help in the free agent market at safety over the years. Even Jenkins was a cornerback convert that helped fill the role for the Eagles. That said, the Eagles finally found a combination that worked and now that Schwartz is in the picture, perhaps he can take the pieces in place and turn them into something great.

The Eagles front seven group was already great and that is why signing Cox long-term is so important. But the secondary still needs work, whether through new additions — some of which could come in the Draft — or by continuing to mold the current players in a new system. Enter Schwartz, who could certainly help the secondary improve with his reputation for working with stingy defenses.

Keeping Cox and Thurmond will not change the Eagles desperate need to make decision at quarterback, but it could help them come to a decision if they don't have a gaping hole at safety or the pressure to extend a defensive star on the line. That makes it all the more important that the Eagles get their internal work done in the next few weeks, particularly on defense.

Kevin Durso is managing editor for Eagledelphia. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.

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