If there’s one area of severe need for the Eagles this offseason, it lies along the defensive front. Depth at defensive tackle was tested throughout the 2018 campaign, with Timmy Jernigan’s injury forcing Fletcher Cox to put the pass-rushing efforts on his back once more as a flurry of practice squad promotees fought for survival alongside Haloti Ngata. At defensive end, Brandon Graham and Chris Long are pending free agents and there’s suddenly a sense of uncertainty outside of Derek Barnett. But strangely, a twist of fate could bring two key contributors during the team’s emphatic Super Bowl run back to the City of Brotherly Love.
Roster turnover is something that cannot be avoided in the NFL, especially as Super Bowl champions. The Eagles lost Beau Allen, who played in 40% of snaps during his last year with the team to free agency. They were forced to do the same with Vinny Curry after he declined to take a pay cut, which was understandable after posting 47 QB pressures, 18 QB hits, and 3 sacks.
But like a breakup that was forced for the wrong reasons, it appears as though the Eagles may have needed the duo as much as the duo needed them. Curry secured the bag, but he was unable to secure his future. In his first season with the Bucs, he posted 21 tackles, 7 QB hits, and 2.5 sacks. It was the 30-year old’s most underwhelming season since his rookie year. As for Allen, he performed at a similar level to what Eagles fans became accustomed to. Surely, improvements for both players would be naturally expected in their second year as Buccaneers, right?
Well, in most situations, yes. But the hiring of Todd Bowles and the switch to a 3-4 could leave Vinny Curry out in the dark. Not only that, but the fact he’s owed another $16.5M over the next two years cap hit isn’t exactly the most attractive for a team already battling against the salary cap tide.
So the Bucs have a 30-year old schematic misfit who underwhelmed during his first year with the team and will cost them $8M against the cap next year, and a 27-year old defensive end with whom they actually have an option to get out of the contract and avoid a further $5M cap hit. Seeing both players hit the free agency market isn’t the most unlikely scenario in the world.
Would the Eagles bring either of them back in this hypothetical scenario? That’s a question only Howie Roseman would know the answer too. But Beau Allen was one of the most well-respected members of the Eagles locker room after being drafted in the seventh round by the Birds and consistently drew praise from Jim Schwartz. Curry really started to flourish under Jim Schwartz in 2017, sitting on the throne while a rookie Derek Barnett honed his craft. The issue previously was simply finishing plays and that finally started to change.
The one issue that Curry would face is that the Eagles have already overpaid for his services once and the Buccaneers have arguably now followed suit. The veteran pass-rusher likely isn’t going to come cheap and the Eagles are going to take some convincing.
But, this is now poised to be a very young defensive end group and the presence of Curry could prove vital to those less experienced at the position. Nobody really knows how Jernigan’s future is going to look from this point and the Eagles desparately need a safety net behind Cox, who simply cannot be expected to be on the field for 90%+ of defensive snaps.
When it came down to it, Allen and Curry both did what was best for their careers at the time. But now, what’s best for both of them may well be going back to where they prospered most.
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