Enter Mike Mitchell, whom Mosher reports has received interest from Philly as we approach the official start of the free-agency period Tuesday. The 26-year-old—he's a year younger than Byrd—started 14 games for Carolina in 2013, recording 66 tackles, four interceptions, 3.5 sacks and two forced fumbles.
That kind of versatility and playmaking ability earned him a positive grade from Pro Football Focus (subscription required), which is something no qualifying Eagles safety could accomplish in 2013. He was also ranked as the 19th-best safety in coverage, which is particularly important for a team that ranked dead last in the NFL in pass defense last year.
Pro Football Focus coverage grades, safeties, 2013
Team Grade Rank
Mike Mitchell Panthers 3.5 19th
Nate Allen Eagles -1.3 51st
Earl Wolff Eagles -4.0 67th
Patrick Chung Eagles -8.4 81st
Pro Football Focus
Mitchell might not be Byrd, but the price difference could be substantial. Considering that Byrd is also older and missed several games due to a foot injury last year, I'd say this is a no-brainer.
They'll probably have to fight for Mitchell, too, because safeties are hot commodities this year, but the good news is that everyone not named Byrd could be affordable due to the fact that Antoine Bethea, Chris Clemons and Donte Whitner are also available. Supply and demand doesn't dramatically favor the players here.
The Eagles might need a pair of new safeties. The jury's still out on 2013 rookie Earl Wolff, and Nate Allen is probably better suited as a backup. They'll likely look for another one in the draft, and a pass-rusher is also needed, but they'd be silly not to invest in one of those top-end safeties about to hit the open market.
Bethea will be 30 next season. Whitner is also a couple of years older. Clemons has zero sacks and just three picks in his last 32 starts. Byrd will be too costly. Mitchell, though, might be the perfect target.
If the Eagles are going to spend money on anyone, it should be on him.