Andrew Sendejo was signed by the Philadelphia Eagles for veteran depth at safety, a roster spot the team needed as Corey Graham wasn’t going to return for the 2019 season. Graham played a major role in the Eagles’ championship season, but age caught up to Graham in 2018… forcing the Eagles to look elsewhere.
The Eagles committed to upgrading the secondary this offseason, starting with Sendejo. While keeping Sendejo may cost the Eagles a fourth-round compensatory pick, the younger players in the Eagles secondary are demonstrating why the Eagles should keep him around (even with all the secondary upgrades they have brought in this offseason).
“Here, our safeties have to do a lot of talking. They’re doing a good job talking. Especially ‘Dejo,” said Eagles cornerback Rasul Douglas (via Les Bowen of Inquier.com). “He probably knows more than I do right now. I think he’s in his playbook probably every day.”
Sendejo signed with the Eagles looking to have the No. 3 safety spot in 2019, but the Eagles signed Blake Countess and Godwin Idbewueke in May to compete with Sendejo and Tre’ Sullivan for the No. 3 safety spot. The Eagles are also hosting Johnathan Cyprien for a visit, another potential competitor for the No. 3 safety role.
Even with all the competition at safety, Sendejo may be the best of the bunch.
Sendejo was one of the best coverage safeties in the NFL in 2017 as opposing quarterbacks had just a 59.8 passer rating when targeting him. He allowed 17 catches for 257 yards and had three interceptions on 29 targets. The season prior, opposing quarterbacks had a 79.6 passer rating when targeting Sendejo, who allowed 12 catches for 214 yards on 19 targets. Sendejo had two interceptions that season.
The Eagles are getting a bargain in adding Sendejo, who is expected to play he Graham role as the No. 3 safety the team desperately needed in 2018. Graham played 655 defensive snaps (63.10 percent) and finished with 56 tackles, five pass deflections and an interception. Opposing quarterbacks had a 78.4 passer rating when targeting the 33-year old Graham, who allowed 12 catches for 70 yards this past season.
The Eagles typically prefer to play five defensive backs on the field, specifically when they move Malcolm Jenkins down in the box as a linebacker. Sendejo can play up top with Rodney McLeod or play the Jenkins role at linebacker, giving the Eagles an extra option at defensive back to use in nickel and dime packages.
Graham would move down to cornerback in those packages at that time, which the Eagles won’t need to do with Sendejo (who is basically an extra linebacker). The Eagles have plenty of cornerbacks that can line up in off coverage, allowing Sendejo to move freely up top or go down in the box and play linebacker.
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If Malcolm Jenkins skips mandatory OTAs and training camp, Sendejo can fill his role on the defense in multiple positions.The Eagles may lose a compensatory fourth-round pick with Sendejo on the roster, but his value toward the team’s Super Bowl chances in 2019 is arguably worth more than a draft pick.