Oct 13, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Brandon Boykin (22) against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers works out prior to the game at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Personally, I like Brandon Boykin. The cornerback, by all appearances, appears to be a good person, an asset to the community he works in, and ultimately a nice guy. Sure, he had some issues with Eagles fans on twitter early in his career, but mostly he supported the team and it’s fans on and off the field.
But Saturday, Boykin became an ex-Eagle, and it is for the better.
A fourth round pick (#112 overall) out of Georgia in 2012, the former Bulldog came to an Eagles team full of high expectations but devoid of leadership. Boykin quickly beat out incumbent cornerback Joselio Hanson to become the team’s slot corner in his rookie year. Despite a year where the Eagles finished 4-12, Boykin appeared to be a piece that the Birds could use to build a successful defense in the coming years.
Enter Chip Kelly. The coach who’s motto of “big people beat up little people” was not conducive to Boykin’s stature, as he was on the shorter and lighter side (5’9” and 185 pounds). Despite not fitting Kelly’s mold, Boykin excelled as the Eagles slot corner for two years. Despite limited playing time, he ranked by Pro Football Focus as one of the better cornerbacks in the league.
Boykin’s role on the team was destined to change in Kelly’s third year as head coach and first as general manager. Despite letting starting cornerbacks Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher leave Philadelphia, the head coach signed a slew of cornerbacks, including former Oregon Duck Walter Thurmond III (although he was later said to be moving to safety). In the 2015 draft, the Eagles chose two cornerbacks in the sixth round.
The writing was on the wall for Boykin.
On Saturday, the Eagles traded the Atlanta native to the Pittsburgh Steelers for a conditional fifth round pick. If he plays 60 percent of the snaps, the Eagles will receive a fourth round pick from Pittsburgh.
For Boykin, he gets a new beginning and an opportunity to start for a Steelers team that is lacking in the secondary. On top of that, the fourth year player is entering a contract year and will be looking to make a big splash.
For Philadelphia, it had become obvious that Boykin was the odd man out. It was apparent that even if the cornerback remained in Philadelphia for the 2015 season, he would not be re-signing here. He stated numerous times for his desire to start on the outside and the Eagles refused to give him that chance. Furthermore, the Birds appear high on sixth round draft choice JaCorey Shepherd, who reportedly got snaps as the starting slot corner on the first day of training camp.
So as we sit here now, on day two of training camp, the Eagles secondary becomes a little clearer. Without Boykin, the Eagles continue to move on from players drafted by Andy Reid as Chip Kelly continues to reshape the roster to make it his own.
Hal Greenblatt covers the Eagles for PattisonAve. Follow him on Twitter: @HMGreenblatt