Eagles Face a Nickel Cornerback Dilemma: Assessing In-House Options After Maddox Loss

Eagles Face a Nickel Cornerback Dilemma: Assessing In-House Options After Maddox Loss

Eagles Face a Nickel Cornerback Dilemma: Assessing In-House Options

The Philadelphia Eagles are grappling with a significant setback as they prepare to navigate the 2023 NFL season without nickel cornerback Avonte Maddox. Coach Nick Sirianni has expressed confidence in their in-house options to fill the void left by Maddox, but the challenge ahead is undeniable. In this blog post, we'll explore the Eagles' options and the potential impact of Maddox's absence on their defense.

Avonte Maddox: A Valuable Asset

Avonte Maddox, at the age of 27, has solidified himself as one of the NFL's premier nickel cornerbacks. His ability to cover slot receivers, disrupt plays, and contribute to turnovers has been invaluable for the Eagles. Unfortunately, injuries have plagued Maddox in recent seasons, robbing the team of his talents for extended periods.

Coach Sirianni on the Loss

Eagles' head coach Nick Sirianni acknowledged the significance of Maddox's absence. He praised Maddox's aggressive style of play and highlighted his contributions on the field, including game-changing plays and turnovers. While Maddox's absence will be felt, Sirianni expressed faith in the Eagles' in-house options to step up to the challenge.

In-House Options and Cross-Training

One strategy the Eagles have employed is cross-training players in various positions, including cornerbacks and safeties. This approach prepares them for situations like Maddox's absence, where versatility becomes crucial. The ability to adapt to different roles and positions is a valuable asset in the NFL.

Top Remaining Options

With Josiah Scott and C.J. Gardner-Johnson no longer available as replacements for Maddox, the Eagles must explore alternative options within their roster. Let's take a closer look at some of these options:

  1. Mario Goodrich: The Eagles signed Goodrich as an undrafted free agent out of Clemson last year, and he spent his rookie season on the practice squad. Goodrich saw his first game action in Week 2 of the 2023 season when injuries hit the secondary hard. He played 39 snaps on defense and contributed with four tackles, including three solo tackles. While he faced challenges against Justin Jefferson, Goodrich's performance against other opponents was commendable.

  2. James Bradberry: The Eagles' veteran cornerback raised eyebrows during the summer by taking reps at slot cornerback. While Bradberry was not signed to play slot corner, his versatility and size (6-1, 215) could provide matchup advantages, particularly against athletic tight ends or larger slot receivers.

  3. Big Nickel Package: The Eagles could consider deploying a "big nickel" package, a strategy that involves using a hybrid safety as the fifth defensive back instead of a traditional slot cornerback. Justin Evans has already played in the slot in this configuration, and the Eagles have the option of using their third-round pick, Sydney Brown, in this role down the line.

  4. Other Cornerbacks: The Eagles also have Eli Ricks and Kelee Ringo on their roster, with Ricks appearing to be the new backup nickel cornerback. However, Ringo seems more suited for the boundary cornerback position and may require additional cross-training before taking on the nickel role.


The Philadelphia Eagles face a challenging situation with the loss of Avonte Maddox, a cornerstone of their defensive strategy. Coach Nick Sirianni's confidence in the in-house options demonstrates the team's commitment to adapting and finding solutions. The ability to fill the void left by Maddox will be crucial as the Eagles strive to remain competitive in the NFC East division during the 2023 season. As fans watch the team navigate this challenge, they will undoubtedly hope for the emergence of a reliable replacement in the nickel cornerback position.

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