Despite having a beyond solid offseason, there’s been one area that the Eagles have neglected up to this point – safety. After letting Rodney McLeod walk in free agency, the team currently sits with Anthony Harris and Marcus Epps atop the depth chart.
Those two just received some reinforcement, as the Eagles have announced the signing of Jaquiski Tartt, 30, to a one-year deal. The contract amount has yet to be announced. Tartt, a former second-rounder, has seven NFL seasons under his belt, all with the San Francisco Giants. In 80 games (64 started), Tartt’s collected 367 tackles, four sacks, and four interceptions.
If Tartt sounds familiar to you, perhaps it’s because you saw him drop a beyond crucial pick with 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter of the NFC Championship against the Los Angeles Rams. LA would go on to score a FG that drive and eventually win 20-17.
You’re welcome for putting the thought that could happen to the Eagles in your head. Jokes aside, Tartt’s signing is an interesting one given the crucial need, but there are some red flags that could rear their ugly heads during the season. Let’s take a look.
Tartt Will Jump Into Some Rotation With Epps And Harris
Tartt has started every game he’s appeared in since 2017, so there’s probably no question the Eagles will likely slot him alongside Epps and Harris in some way. Things will become more clear as training camp and preseason progress.
Last season, Tartt had 66 tackles in 14 games while allowing a 57.6% competition percentage, 95.0 passer rating, and 5.9 yards/target. As PFF Eagles notes, Tartt has the third lowest completion rate in coverage since 2019 with 57.3%. So there are some definite pluses with the signing.
Tartt’s addition is also needed from an experience standpoint. K’Von Wallace (24), Reed Blankenship (23), and Jared Mayden (23) are all still young, and while Wallace has 28 games under his belt, he hasn’t taken the step the Eagles were hoping for at this point.
Still, There Are Question Marks About Tartt
The safety’s signing comes with some gambles, however. If you’re expecting a sleeper free agent hit, you’re probably hyping yourself up for nothing. PFF graded Tartt at 61.8 in 2021, ranking him 55th out of 62 safeties. Perhaps a rebound is in store, but considering his age, I doubt he’ll blowing anyone away.
He’s also never played a complete season in his career, and has missed less than 13 games in four of the last five seasons (less than 10 games in three of those). The team could probably ill-afford to lose a player at such an uncertain position, and it’s practically a guarantee he will miss at least a couple games this season considering — one again — his age.
One more interesting note about age: the Eagles clearly don’t mind older bodies in the backfield. If you assume Tartt alone is starting alongside Harris, the average age of the four starting defensive backs is 29.75 (30 when fellow newcomer James Bradberry turns 29 in August). Hopefully drop-offs began later than sooner.
All in all, it’s a solid signing (depending on the terms) given where we stand in the offseason, but it’s not one that fixes the uncertainty at safety heading into 2022.