The Philadelphia Eagles have had a modest offseason. Going into the NFL Draft with three first-round picks, they have been measured and patient. This strategy has allowed them to plug some holes in the roster while not overpaying and leaving cap space for next season.
In this piece, we will go through some of the most notable moves and grading them on their immediate and long-term impacts.
Signing Haason Reddick
The Eagles had a significant need at edge rusher. With starter Derek Barnett falling out of favor with the team, and with Brandon Graham and Ryan Kerrigan in the twilight of their careers, they needed some younger depth. One edge position was shored up by standout pass rusher Josh Sweat, who the Eagles extended last year.
Free agent signing Haason Reddick is great value for the Eagles. After signing a three-year, $45 million deal, the edge rusher can provide premium pass rushing across from Sweat. He has accumulated an incredible 22.5 sacks and 67 pressures in his last two seasons, despite being with two different teams.
The Eagles are now free to cross edge rusher off the list of primary needs in the upcoming draft and focus their three first-rounder picks on other positional needs.
Releasing And Bringing Back Fletcher Cox
In what seemed like a surprising move, the Eagles released Fletcher Cox. The team had been openly shopping the superstar defensive tackle at last year’s trade deadline. Turns out, it was a tactical move to shorten his deal and lower his salary.
In juxtaposition, the re-signing will result in a larger cap hit this season. That is evidently something that the Eagles’ front office decided is a worthy sacrifice to keep the deal shorter.
There is not much to this particular move, apart from a sigh of relief from Eagles fans. The value of Fletcher Cox, who certainly regressed last season in a new scheme, is not only in his on-field production. He is the heartbeat of their defense and will be instrumental in the development of the younger players across the defense. The Eagles are expected to place significant emphasis on that side of the ball in the NFL Draft.
Whether it be for his production or leadership, the big man being back is smiles all around for Eagles fans and the team.
Re-Signing Guard Nate Herbig
Nate Herbig was really solid last season. Not only did the offensive lineman fill in for the injured Brandon Brooks on the right side, but he also took snaps at left guard and center when injuries required. He was the most versatile backup and played well enough to warrant a one-year deal from the Eagles.
He ended the season with a 68.1 PFF (Pro-Football Focus) overall blocking grade. Considering his low cost and the fact that he played three different positions on the line, that was very solid.
The Eagles made a terrific choice re-signing him in free agency. Even if they draft a prospect like Zion Johnson to start over him, he will be terrific insurance along the entire interior line if anyone goes down.
Bringing Back Jason Kelce
How can you not love this move?
Kelce earned his fourth First-Team All-Pro selection. He earned a phenomenal 89.4 PFF run-blocking grade and was the unquestioned leader of the offense last season. He personified the physicality and dominance of the blistering Eagles running game.
Furthermore, Kelce has started 122 consecutive games. His amazing dependability certainly influences his success. The last two seasons have seen the Eagles’ offensive line littered with injuries and adjustments. He has been as solid and as brilliant as ever.
Like Cox, Kelce’s production will be only some of his value here. As the Eagles look to upgrade their guard position in the draft, the premier center will provide incredible mentorship and guidance.
Signing Zach Pascal
The Eagles need weapons.
Last season, only rookie DeVonta Smith and speedy Quez Watkins amassed over 300 yards at wide receiver. After that, there were no tangible weapons for Jalen Hurts to get the ball too. The quarterback showed improvement week-to-week but was held back by his lack of consistent receiving weapons.
Zach Pascal does not move the needle but does at least add some depth. The last two seasons saw him catch more than 70% of his passes in the slot, which bodes well to replace Reagor in the role. He certainly had a down year last year, having only 384 yards and three touchdowns. He also had four drops.
Signing Kyzir White
The Eagles need help at linebacker. So much so that the Eagles’ fanbase is begging for a first-round selection to be used at the position. Typically, linebacker has become a position that is rarely taken in the first round at all.
White provides a prototypical tweener body type. At 6’2″, 216 lbs., he can play both safety and linebacker, and had a whopping 144 tackles last season. He also held quarterbacks to a respectable 88.1 passer rating on 59 targets. White had two interceptions, one sack and six pressures also.
In the Eagles rush-four scheme, this signing seems to be something that could really enhance their coverage packages and versatility.
Signing Derek Barnett
Well, this is puzzling.
Perplexingly, the Eagles re-signed edge rusher Derek Barnett. The 2017 first rounder is set to earn up to $14 million for the next two years on his new deal.
The reason it is puzzling is Barnett’s recent production. The 2021 season saw his career low sack total at just 2.0 and a staggering eight penalties. Furthermore, four of those penalties were personal fouls.
While Barnett did have a solid 22 quarterback pressures and seven tackles for loss, this deal is surprising in the wake of signing superstar Haason Reddick from the Panthers. This money could have been used elsewhere on pass catchers or the secondary.
What Is Next?
The Eagles still have significant needs across their roster. Luckily, they have three first-round selections in the upcoming NFL Draft. Furthermore, the Eagles have the ability to inject more youth into their aging trenches on both sides of the ball.
Their most pressing needs are at wide receiver and linebacker. Despite adding Pascal and White, Philadelphia will need to prioritize these positions in the draft.
The wide receiver depth of this class is strong. Options such as Drake London, Garrett Wilson and Jameson Williams should be tantalizing to pair with DeVonta Smith. Moreover, they can select Christian Watson or David Bell if they would prefer to get second round value.
Conversely, to select a linebacker in the first round is heresy to Howie Roseman. He will need to ignore his cardinal sin and ensure he does not waltz into the draft with a parochial agenda. Elite linebacking prospects Devin Lloyd and Nakobe Dean need to be considered.
Furthermore, the Eagles should target any elite cornerbacks who drop to them at 15. With Ahmad Gardner, Derek Stingley Jr, Trent McDuffie, Andrew Booth Jr. and Kyle Gordon all projected within the first round, the Eagles would be foolish not to replace Steven Nelson with a first-round pick. If any of them drop to them at 15, expect one to be drafted.
Lastly, Brandon Brooks’ retirement has made adding a guard a need for the Eagles. While they do have Landon Dickerson and Isaac Seumalo on the roster, they most likely will compete for the left guard starting position. Nate Herbig was solid and will get a chance to compete with whoever the Eagles draft. If prospects Zion Johnson or Kenyon Green are available at their 19th pick, expect Philadelphia to strongly consider this.
The Eagles can then go after depth at tight end, running back and safety in later rounds.
Where To Now?
The Eagles must exercise patience and prioritize talent over fit this offseason. They are still rebuilding, despite their playoff success this past season.
Look for the team to inject youth into their entire roster on both sides of the ball. Once they have done that, they will be able to see how their young quarterback performs entering his third season as a pro.
The Eagles get a thumbs up for their offseason thus far, making mostly savvy moves that are good long term as well as for next season.
Overall Grade: B+