Instant analysis: Michael Bennett is a perfect fit for the Eagles, but what happens next?

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Howie Roseman isn’t human, I’m almost sure of it. According to numerous sources, the Philadelphia Eagles have traded a fifth-round pick and Marcus Johnson for the services of veteran pass-rusher, Michael Bennett and a seventh-round pick. Here are some quick takeaways from the stunning trade.

 

The Eagles pass-rush just got a whole lot scarier:
Jim Schwartz and his rampant rotation of defensive ends were a nightmare for opposing offenses last year. Their 38 sack total doesn’t really show just how lethal the pass rush was, with pressures and hurries headlining a season of pure dominance. The pressure off the edge now receives a huge boost in Michael Bennett, a veteran pass-rusher who at 6’4, 247 lbs, has been a large reason behind Seattle’s defensive reputation.

Bennett posted up 8.5 sacks and 40 tackles last year, his ninth season in the NFL. The three-time Pro Bowler also tallied 24 quarterback hits despite battling injuries. What makes him so valuable is that he can play either inside, or outside. So in a rotation of Michael Bennett, Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham and Derek Barnett, WHO DO YOU BLOCK?! If you have an answer, switch Bennett outside and place Tim Jernigan in at DT. There won’t be much that will stop the Birds’ pass-rush next year.

 

Salary Cap slalom:
This is where things get interesting. Bennett was due to make $8.4M this season, with a $3M roster bonus activating on March 18th. This move made sense for the Seahawks, who have notably wanted to get younger across the board for quite some time now. But what about the Eagles?

Enter Vinny Curry. The Eagles draftee is set to cost the Eagles $11M thanks to his enormous extension signed prior to the 2016 season. After reports of a restructure have seemingly fallen through, the Eagles could technically trade/cut Curry and actually save around $2.6M in cap space, which becomes incredibly valuable. Not only that, they get a pass-rusher who is far more productive and is signed through 2020, giving the Eagles some leverage of veteran leadership and efficiency without the need to urgently sign him to an extension.

This is one possibility, with the money from this trade potentially going towards a Brandon Graham or Nigel Bradham piggy bank.

 

The trade:
The Eagles gave up Marcus Johnson and what looks to be a pick swap in this trade. Johnson was an undrafted free agent who impressed during his first offseason with the team before suffering an injury that would rip his rookie year away. In year two, he stood out in preseason once again and would force his way onto the bottom of a tightly contested WR depth chart. He ended his season with 5 receptions for 45 yards but could well be a developmental prospect for Seattle as a WR4.

The pick-swap is likely just a throw-in, but it’s worth noting that the Eagles do indeed give up some further mid-round capital. Without a day-two pick, the Eagles are losing traction in the draft and fast. But if there’s one thing we’ve learned, it’s to never underestimate Howie Roseman.

 

The future:
The immediate takeaway is that barring even more explosive moves, Derek Barnett’s role from year-one to year-two will likely be the same. If Curry is traded or cut, the Eagles then have Bennett to start alongside Graham for a year, leaving the Tennessee product one more year to develop and hone his craft after an progressively impressive rookie year.

The move also lightens the weight at DT. If Beau Allen is going tot best free agency waters due to cap restrictions, then the Eagles now have a flex player who can fill both a DT/DE role, leaving more time for the likes of Destiny Vaeao or Elijah Qualls to develop and learn under two franchise defensive tackles and a three-time Pro Bowler.

 

Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

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