The Eagles re-signed free agent DB Jaylen Watkins. Don’t make a big deal of this one way or the other. This is a cheap deal with no guaranteed money. Watkins wasn’t great in 2016, but there is nothing wrong with bringing him back.
With the coaching change entering 2016, Watkins was prepared to improve his tackling and his technique, and he did just that to make the 53-man roster, stay there, and help the Eagles’ secondary depth.
Watkins played in 38 percent of the snaps last season and had six passes defensed and a couple of quarterback hurries.
“It’s been a learning experience,” Watkins said, “and I know I’m always in the position where I have to keep improving myself and my situation. I’ve learned so much this year. It’s been a good step for me, with a lot more to go. I’m excited to be in this defense.”
Now, with free agency less than a week away, Watkins has handled his business side. He’ll report to the spring conditioning program on April 17 ready to get bigger, stronger, and faster and ready to compete for playing time behind starting safeties Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod.
“I have to tackle and cover and be physical,” Watkins said. “That’s the name of the game. Stay with my technique and compete on every play.”
Watkins played his best football in 2016, but still needs to get better to feel confident about making the team this year. The Eagles could spend a pick on a Safety to compete with him.
Safety is one of those spots where a player can get better each year. A lot of that position is reading plays and knowing where to be and what to do. Experience is a huge factor. That said, there is no guarantee Watkins will take another step forward. The Eagles were smart to bring him back, but still need to make him earn a roster spot.