The Eagles listed Bradley Fletcher as questionable for Sunday's game against the New York Giants, but what is without question is that the cornerback will not return next season.
He may not be the only starter from the Eagles' beleaguered secondary headed for an exit. Safety Nate Allen's contract will also expire in the offseason. Cornerback Cary Williams has one year left on his deal, but all of his salary for 2015 isn't guaranteed.
The Eagles could opt to move on from both their outside cornerbacks as they did two offseasons ago when Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie weren't brought back. But rather than start over as they did with Fletcher and Williams, the Eagles could look in-house for replacements.
If not, there is always free agency and the draft. But Sunday would be a free day to evaluate for the future if coach Chip Kelly and defensive coordinator Bill Davis were to give Nolan Carroll the nod to start ahead of the injured-or-not Fletcher.
Fletcher ran with the first team earlier this week, according to several players, but that was before he was listed on injury reports with a bruised hip. The 27-year-old Carroll has one year left on his contract and Sunday's game could be his opportunity to make a pitch for next year.
He was asked earlier this week if he would be disappointed if he didn't get a chance against the Giants.
"A little bit, but it's not my decision, it's not my call," Carroll said. "I just do what I'm supposed to do, what they ask me to do."
Davis said Brandon Boykin was also in competition to start, but the Eagles have seemingly typecast him as a slot cornerback. He has been the team's most reliable defensive back over the last two seasons, but Kelly and Davis' preference for rangy outside corners has kept the 5-foot-9 Boykin inside.
He has made it no secret that he wants to start, but he may have to play out the final year of his rookie deal as the nickel cornerback.
"I can't see that far into future," Boykin said when asked about wanting to start next season. "It's still 2014. We got a whole offseason."
Even if Williams were to return, or Carroll and Boykin were to be given every opportunity to win the other spot, the Eagles are likely to bring in free-agent competition. It may behoove them to dig deep into their pockets.
They were burned by the Asomugha signing, but bargain-hunting hasn't paid off either. The Eagles weren't interested in acquiring Darrelle Revis or Antonio Cromartie last offseason, but both are slated to become free agents again.
Revis will be 30 in July and Cromartie 31 in April. If the Eagles are looking for younger options, there are attractive candidates.
The Seahawks' Byron Maxwell could be one of the most sought-after cornerbacks. He turns 27 in February and has the kind of length (6-feet; 331/2-inch arms) the Eagles prefer. Maxwell plays both inside and out for Seattle. His versatility and ability to play press-man coverage would also be appealing.
The 49ers' Chris Culliver (26, 6-0, 199) could fit the physical prerequisites, but his off-the-field issues could be a deal-breaker. The Saints' Patrick Robinson (27, 5-11, 190), the Texans' Kareem Jackson (26, 5-11, 196) and the 49ers' Perrish Cox (27, 5-11, 195) are other possibilities.
The draft is more of an unknown at this stage, but Michigan State's Trae Waynes (6-1, 183) is likely a first-round talent if he declares as expected. The Eagles haven't expended a first or second draft pick on a corner since 2002 (Lito Sheppard).
Jaylen Watkins was chosen in the fourth round in May. The rookie hasn't played a defensive snap all season and the Eagles still seem unsure whether he's an inside or outside corner, or safety. Davis touted Watkins' versatility.
"He's just not there yet," Davis said. "It's like a lot of rookies. We're throwing a lot at him, and he's done a great job trying to absorb it, but he hasn't separated himself to where he belongs in the starting conversation yet. But I'm hopeful that some day he will."
Injury report. Linebackers Trent Cole (hand) and Mychal Kendricks (ankle) were listed as probable for the Giants game on Friday's injury report.
Busy, Burned at the Corners
Eagles cornerback Bradley Fletcher is the NFL leader in two dubious categories.
Passing Yds. Allowed
Fletcher, EAGLES 1,072
Jason McCourty, TEN 1,033
William Gay, PIT 897
Darrin Walls, NYJ 855
Brandon Carr. DAL 849
TD Catches Allowed
If Fletcher allows one more touchdown reception, he will have allowed more in a season than any cornerback since 2008.
Fletcher, EAGLES 9
Patrick Peterson, ARZ 8
Greg Toler, IND 8
David Amerson, WAS 8
First in Snaps
Eagles cornerback Cary Williams is on pace to lead all NFL cornerbacks in snaps played for the second straight year.
Williams, EAGLES 1,117
Fletcher, EAGLES 1,094
Buster Skrine, CLE 1,085
Desmond Trufant, ATL 1,044
Jason McCourty, TEN 1,033
- Evan Cross
SOURCE: Pro Football Focus