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Eagles' Nolan Carroll, E.J. Biggers face free agency in tough spot

PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Eagles have begun locking up young players like Lane Johnson and Zach Ertz with long-term contracts.

There are a few players eligible to become free agents next month. We'll have a weeklong look at them, and what the Eagles should do about them.

Nolan Carroll, E.J. Biggers, defensive backs

Carroll had some bad luck after signing with the Eagles for two years.

In 2014, Carroll was unable to earn a starting job over Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher in training camp. He wound up playing in nickel situations and starting one game at the end of the season. Going into 2015, Carroll won an open competition for the starting job opposite big-ticket free agent Byron Maxwell.

Carroll started 11 games. He intercepted two passes and broke up 18 more. During the Thanksgiving Day game in Detroit, Carroll broke his leg. He went on injured reserve and goes into free agency as an injured player from one of the league’s worst pass defenses. That’s a tough situation.

Biggers signed a one-year deal with the Eagles. He played on 1.0 percent of the defensive plays in the first game of the season, and played on 100 percent of the plays in the final game of the season. Biggers’ role grew as coordinator Bill Davis became comfortable using him.

Alternatives: Second-round draft pick Eric Rowe moved into the starting lineup when Carroll got hurt. He played well enough, and has enough potential, to get every chance to win a starting job in training camp this summer.

The Eagles drafted three cornerbacks last year: Rowe plus sixth-round picks JaCorey Shepherd and Randall Evans. They also added an undrafted rookie who made the team: Denzel Rice.

Shepherd tore his ACL during training camp and missed the entire season. Evans and Rice made cameos at the end of the season. These three should give the Eagles a group of young players who can compete for playing time in camp.

Bottom line: New defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said he will build his defense around the talent on hand. He will get a chance to look at Maxwell, Rowe, Shepherd, Evans and Rice, plus any other young players added to the mix, during this offseason.

If Biggers or Carroll show interest in returning, they can likely be signed for reasonable, short-term deals. They would then compete for playing time. Coming off of 2015, no one from the Eagles' secondary deserves much more security than that.