The Eagles have signed veteran safety Andrew Sendejo.
Here’s what our four beat writers think of the move.
This isn’t a bad signing. The Eagles needed to add some veteran depth behind safeties Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod, and the 31-year-old Sendejo, who has appeared in 95 games in his career, provides that.
I just felt there were some other guys — younger guys such as Adrian Phillips or Clayton Geathers or Jimmie Ward — they could have signed for roughly the same money, who would’ve have been better starting options if something happens to Jenkins or McLeod, who is coming off an ACL tear.
Then again, they already have second-year corner/safety Avonte Maddox, who played very well back there last year after McLeod went down. So that likely went into their thinking.
The 6-foot-1, 210-pound Sendejo does give them a guy they can use in Jim Schwartz’s three-safety sub-packages, which will help offset the loss of linebacker Jordan Hicks. Sendejo is not as good a ball hawk as Corey Graham was, but he’s a solid tackler.
One of the underrated transactions during the Eagles’ Super Bowl season came during training camp when they signed Corey Graham as the third safety. The Eagles didn’t wait until training camp this time, but I similarly like this move.
Andrew Sendejo is an experienced player (95 games, 59 starts) who can provide needed depth to safety. The Eagles can trust him to join Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod, and he can contribute on special teams. I credit the Eagles for prioritizing the third safety spot. Look at the postseason last year: The Eagles’ third safety played 64 percent of the defensive snaps. Look at the postseason the year before: The third safety played 60 percent of the defensive snaps. Although the “base” defense is technically a 4-3, the Eagles aren’t in that formation often. The third safety is more important in this defense than the third linebacker.
I can be critical of them for not going with a younger option — the Eagles continue to add past-their-prime players — but a top-of-the-market safety likely won’t be interested in that role, so it’s smart that they found someone with legitimate starting experience. Jim Schwartz places a premium on 10-year veterans; that’s what Sendejo will be this season.
I also wonder if perhaps Avonte Maddox could have flourished in that role. But my guess is the Eagles find a way to get Maddox on the field somehow. So I won’t be hard on the Eagles for adding an experienced third safety on a one-year deal. That’s a good move to make.
The Eagles addressed the defensive secondary with their last two moves, bringing back cornerback Ronald Darby on a one-year, $8.5 million contract and signing veteran safety Andrew Sendejo to a one-year deal. The exact monetary details of Sendejo’s contract are still unknown, but it’s unlikely the Eagles spent a significant amount on the 31-year-old during the second week of free agency.
Sendejo, in essence, replaces Corey Graham as the third safety. While Graham was a solid addition during the 2017 Super Bowl run, and the Eagles’ decision to retain him for another season made logistical sense, he struggled in 2018, particularly in the first half of the season. His defense when the Titans converted a fourth-and-15 in overtime might have been the single worst play of the Eagles season.
Jim Schwartz has increasingly used the third safety in sub-packages, whether in big nickel or dime, so Sendejo could end playing around 40-60 percent of snaps. He has plenty of starting experience with 53 career starts, all with the Vikings over the last four seasons. The 6-1, 210-pound safety is solid in coverage, but mediocre in run support. He has only six career interceptions and one forced fumble.
You can never have too many capable defensive backs, and adding Sendejo gives the Eagles a seasoned safety should Malcolm Jenkins or Rodney McLeod go down. But part of me wanted to see Avonte Maddox given the opportunity to win that role. The Eagles might still envision him as their slot cornerback — and that might be his best position — but with Darby, Jalen Mills and Sidney Jones also on the roster, he might not get that chance.
But this was a move the Eagles had to make. Were there younger options? Perhaps. But the Eagles need someone only for the short term, and having experience in that role is vital. Sendejo, considering the circumstances, was about as good as they could get for the third safety spot.
A solid veteran safety was a big Eagles need this offseason, and the fact that the team probably won’t be offering that player a starting job was a detriment to filling it, even with the free-agent market well-stocked at the position. Nobody in their prime who was used to starting was going to come here for limited money and a limited role, assuming Rodney McLeod makes a solid return from knee surgery and nothing happens to Malcolm Jenkins.
So, enter Andrew Sendejo, a longtime Vikings starter who lost his job after suffering a season-ending groin injury against the Eagles last season at the Linc. Sendejo will be 32 when the coming season starts, and his reputation is as strictly a box safety, which makes the signing a bit of a surprise, given defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz’s desire for versatility.