How will Genard Avery factor into Eagles long-term plans?

Before the 2019 trade deadline, the Eagles and Howie Roseman had made it a habit to make some big splashes before the clock struck. In 2017, the team traded a fourth-round pick for RB Jay Ajayi and in the following season, they sacrificed a third-round pick for WR Golden Tate – a trade that should’ve led to something special but was fumbled by the coaching staff. Sorry, that’s still a sore spot.

After those “blockbuster” moves, the team made their “big” move this season when they traded for LB/DE Genard Avery from the Browns. The cost was enough to raise some eyebrows, with the Eagles giving up a 2021 fourth-round pick.

Avery was considered to be a steal by most NFL scouts and media members. It even caused outrage within the Browns fan base. Most fans congratulated the Eagles for stealing him away, angry at the Browns’ inability to find a way to use him.

The Memphis product was a sixth-round rookie in 2018 who actually had a really productive season, registering 4.5 sacks and 40 tackles. One year later, he spent most of the season as a healthy scratch.

There’s no real reason for this, either. Aside from the fact that the Browns went from a 4-3 scheme where he played as an OLB, to a 4-2-5 where he’s a defensive end. This may have left Avery out in the cold, leading the Eagles to come in hot.

During his time at Memphis, he registered 44.5 TFL and 21.5 sacks. The 6’1, 255 lbs, pass-rusher is clearly productive when penetrating the offensive line, but is that what he’ll be asked to do as an Eagle?

To nobody’s surprise, the Eagles instantly declared Avery to be a defensive end instead of a linebacker, which makes sense due to his abilities. He validated the investment by getting a huge sack on Bears QB Mitch Trubisky on his very first snap as an Eagle.

Oddly though, after that showing, Avery didn’t play much. He only played 33 snaps on defense while also playing 147 snaps on Special Teams. Numbers like that are a bit head-scratching when you realize that the team invested a fourth-round pick, but Howie Roseman’s response to that was a bit unexpected.

Roseman stated that the trade for the second year defenseman was made with the future in mind and that the coaching staff was also involved in the move. Maybe that explains the motivation behind the hiring of Matt Burke, who is now the team’s defensive line coach.

The Eagles did get experimental with their blitzes last year, showing blitz and dropping guys back a little more frequently, and sending some new names into the chaos. There is a chance that Avery moves full-time to defensive end and gives chase to roster spots held by names like Josh Sweat and Shareef Miller.

With a hungry Avery waiting in the wings, this could essentially motivate the Eagles to lean on their young core on both sides of the defensive line. Avery draws a strong resemblance to a younger Brandon Graham, so the future is now for Genard Avery. Year three may be the year when the monster in Avery is finally unleashed.

Mandatory Photo Credit: Elsa/Getty Images

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