Blankenship poised for a jump this season? Lands on most important list

Blankenship poised for a jump this season? Lands on most important list originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Over the next few weeks leading up to training camp, we’ll be counting down the top 25 most important Eagles for the 2024 season.

25. Brandon Graham
24. Nakobe Dean
23. Milton Williams
22. Jake Elliott
21. Nolan Smith
20. Cooper DeJean
19. Reed Blankenship

It wasn’t that long ago that Reed Blankenship was a relatively unknown undrafted free agent out of Middle Tennessee State. He proved himself quickly.

As a rookie, Blankenship played in 10 games and started 4 and last season was his first as a full-time NFL starting safety. Blankenship missed a couple games with injury but started 15. It obviously wasn’t a great defensive season for the Eagles but Blankenship quietly led the team with 113 tackles and 3 interceptions.

The Eagles had just nine interceptions in 2023 and Blankenship accounted for a third of them.

“It’s all about growth,” Blankenship said in April. “I still have a long way to go and I’m fortunate enough to still have some of these great teammates to teach me and some of these great coaches. And I want to take that opportunity and run with it.

“I’m excited, just so excited to be back. I know a lot of the guys are excited to be back, too.”

The other safety position next to Blankenship was a bit of a rotating door last year with guys like Justin Evans, Terrell Edmunds, Kevin Byard and Sydney Brown all getting starts. This season, Blankenship’s job should be a bit easier after the return of C.J. Gardner-Johnson, who will be the other starter.

After those two, the Eagles don’t have great depth but will eventually get Brown back from injury and have players like Avonte Maddox, who can play the position in a pinch.

This offseason, the Eagles gave Blankenship a contract extension through the 2025 season. As an undrafted player, Blankenship was scheduled to become a restricted free agent after this upcoming year.

The extension was a modest one for just over $3.5 million and Blankenship is still just the 37th highest-paid safety in the NFL, per OverTheCap. But the Eagles didn’t have to extend him at all. They could have waited until after this year and tendered him but they avoided all that and got a chunk of change in Blankenship’s pocket now.

As an undrafted player, Blankenship knows he won’t be handed much.

“I still feel like I have that chip on my shoulder,” he said. “Even with this contract extension, it’s a stepping stone. And it’s something that I want to grow in. I want to learn from the best and play with the best. And that’s what I want to try and do each day.”

Blankenship missed the playoff game against the Bucs last year with a groin injury that needed surgery in the offseason. But he expects to be 100% healthy going into training camp this summer. The Eagles are going to need him this year.

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