Our next stop on the free agency tour is one that’s close to home. NJ native DE Vinny Curry returned to the Eagles in 2019 after what he called a ‘hiatus’ following Super Bowl 52. But his one-year prove-it deal is now up and the Eagles are once again left with the task of placing a price on their former draft pick’s shoulders.
Curry was drafted by the Eagles in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft and would go on to carve a role in numerous defensive schemes. After a career-high 9 sacks in 2014, hopes were high and he played his way to a big-time payday in 2016.
The problem was that the payday was perhaps a little too big. Curry’s production over the course of the next two years didn’t marry up to the cap hit he was tied to and although his career-high 42 tackles played a huge role in the team’s emphatic Super Bowl run, the Birds were left with no choice but to part ways in order to save $5M in cap space.
Curry’s lone season in Tampa Bay was slightly underwhelming, posting just 2.5 sacks and 21 tackles. He did suffer a high ankle sprain early on and never really seemed himself. This drew Howie’s gaze.
The Eagles sought to bring Curry home on a one-year $2.5M deal. It made sense. Not only is their familiarity, but value. The Eagles, of all people, know exactly how Curry’s play should be priced given the amount they overpaid by last time around. It was a deal that made sense for both sides and would allow Curry to step into more of a leadership role.
2019 was a year where young pass-rushers were supposed to take a step forward with the help of BG and his old running-mate. Derek Barnett, Josh Sweat, and Shareef Miller were all gunning candidates in their own right, and all ended up facing some kind of setback, with Miller failing to even see the field.
On the surface, Curry had a quiet season. But then, out of nowhere, there was an explosion. Curry amassed four of his five sacks in the final five games of the season and would end up tying T.J Watt for pressure rate per PFF, getting to the QB on 16.8% of snaps, ranking fifth in that metric out of 99.
The 31-year old proved to everyone what we already knew. As a rotational pass-rusher, you can do a lot worse than Curry, who consistently disrupts the passer and gets into the backfield, but struggles at times to put the icing on the cake. However, his presence alone helps players like Fletcher Cox feast.
After playing in 55% of snaps during the Super Bowl run, that number dropped to 38% in 2019. However, it’s clear that Curry is still of value to the Eagles, both in terms of on-the-field production, and leadership away from it.
The Eagles aren’t going to get significantly older at DE anytime soon. There’s a lot of room for growth and it’s clear that bringing the next-of-kin through the ranks is the aim here. Players such as Daeshon Hall and Joe Ostman will give it their all to make the final roster in the Summer, while the Birds will need to see something more from Miller in year 2. Drafting a player just doesn’t make sense here, but adding free agents certainly does.
Curry could take on the EDGE3 role once filled by Chris Long if someone like Sweat (or a new face) can set themselves apart from the rest of the crowd this offseason.
It would make a lot of sense for the Eagles to retain Curry – a player who wants to play in Philadelphia and has done so at a consistent level. The Birds’ know exactly what they have in Curry and it would be surprising to see him walk into free agency without at least one offer for a cheap deal from Philly.
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