The Los Angeles Chargers have added depth to their secondary.
The Chargers have officially signed former Eagles defensive back Jaylen Watkins to a one-year deal Friday. He’s the fourth outside free agent the team has brought in, with center Mike Pouncey, kicker Caleb Sturgis and tight end Virgil Green being the other three.
Thank you philly for these last 4 years! So many great memories! ✊? #Boltup ⚡️⚡️
— Jaylen Watkins (@jwat14) March 30, 2018
Watkins, who was a restricted free agent prior to the start of free agency, was not tendered by the Eagles, which made him an unrestricted free agent who was free to sign with any team. He recently visited the San Francisco 49ers but ultimately found his new home in Southern California.
Watkins, the brother of Chiefs wide receiver Sammy Watkins, is only 26 years old. He was the Eagles’ 2014 fourth-round pick (101st overall). NFL draft guru Mike Mayock gave the Eagles props for their selection of Watkins. The former Florida product posted a solid 4.41 40-yard dash time and showed off his strength with 22 reps of 225 pounds, which tied for first among cornerbacks, at the NFL Scouting Combine.
The 5-foot-11, 194-pounder has experience at corner and safety. NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, who was one of the first to report the news, believes Watkins will see more time at safety for the Chargers. It makes sense considering the Chargers already have several playmakers at the cornerback position, including Casey Hayward, Trevor Williams, Desmond King and Jason Verrett, who is returning from a knee injury that has cost him all but five games over the last two seasons combined. 2017 undrafted free agent Michael Davis, a promising player who was activated for 15 games last year, is also on the roster; he flashed in practice but had his ups and downs during games (Trevor Williams 2.0 in the making?).
Meanwhile, the Chargers have just three safeties on the roster, including starting strong safety Jahleel Addae, safety-linebacker Adrian Phillips (signed a one-year deal to remain in L.A.) and 2017 fourth-round pick Rayshawn Jenkins. As for Watkins, he could come in and compete for a role at free safety, a position that has been left vacant due to the departure of Tre Boston, who still remains unsigned.
Does the signing of Watkins mean the Chargers have fully moved on from Boston, or that they won’t address the position in the draft? I don’t think so.
Watkins only has five starts to his name and has been active for a total of 36 games (mostly coming from the last two seasons). Primarily a backup, Watkins had 56 combined tackles, eight pass deflections and zero interceptions in four years with the Eagles.
If anything, Watkins provides depth in the secondary and will definitely help on special teams. Last season, Watkins played 36 percent of snaps on special teams (eighth-most on the team) compared to the 16 percent of snaps he had on defense, per Pro Football Reference.