The first few days of Free agency have been interesting to say the very least. Darius Slay and Javon Hargrave are the team’s star-signings, but what happens next? With the second wave of signings imminent, here’s a look at where the Eagles may be focusing their attention.
The big one
If you haven’t been on social media much today, you would be forgiven for missing a Jaguars player giving subtle hints that he’s joining the Eagles. The man in question is DE Yannick Ngakoue.
Despite being young, he already has the second-highest amount of sacks in franchise history with 37.5. He’s coming off a year where he recorded eight sacks, two forced fumbles, 13 tackles for loss, and 15 quarterback hits.
Jacksonville placed a franchise tag on the 24-year old defensive end who recently tweeted that he has no interest in signing a long-term deal with the Jags. While that may be the case, the Eagles will have to trade for his services and likely have a long-term deal in place. They’d have until July to work this out, but they can’t afford to add another huge investment into a defensive line that already accounts for upwards of $40M.
This is eerily similar to the tag-and-trade move the Seahawks pulled last year with Frank Clark. The Niners had to give up a first-rounder, third-rounder, and a future second-rounder to get their man. I don’t think the Eagles would be willing to part ways with so much capital…but what about a player?
I think it’s highly likely that the Eagles move on from Derek Barnett. He too is a young-pass rusher, but in comparison to Ngakoue, the production is night and day. Barnett has battled injury and while flashing some really elite traits, has struggled to find consistency.
Including Barnett in place of a high pick would give the Jags a similarly young player to mold, who is in year 4 of his contract with a fifth-year option up for grabs, and a player who amassed 6.5 sacks of his own last year.
There’s very legitimate interest from the Eagles here and it’s clearly mutual. if Ngakoue has been given the go-ahead to source his own trade, so to speak, then that would explain all of the social media posts and there could well be a move in the works.
Another player in talks with the Eagles is versatile DB Will Parks. The former Bronco is currently a free agent with a red-hot market on his tail.
The former sixth-round pick tallied 35 tackles, 1 sack, 2 passes defended, and 1 interception in 14 games for Denver last season as a jack-of-all-trades DB. That in itself is something that will massively appeal to an Eagles team that has just lost its heart and soul on defense in the way of Malcolm Jenkins.
It’s not yet clear what kind of valuation is on the shoulders of Parks, but he’s young, versatile, and can play inside the box. He’ll want a starting role, which means it could push the nose of recently signed Jalen Mills out of joint if he does land in Philly.
It’s up in the air and is likely going to be a move that will take some time to solidify. Parks has a strong market with several teams from both the NFC and AFC after his services and he’d be doing himself an injustice by leaping at the first offer sheet.
Give this one time, but don’t sleep on it.
More cornerback help
With Logan Ryan wanting around $10M, it’s not looking good for the rest of the CB market given that the Eagles have just made Darius Slay the highest-paid CB in the league.
It is, of course, worth considering that the team has a flurry of young corners at their disposal. Avonte Maddox, Sidney Jones, Rasul Douglas, and Cre’Von LeBlanc may all filter into the team’s long-term plans. The main question is simply ‘where?’
Names like Prince Amukamara would be an appealing option as a CB2, but it does then leave an absolute free-for-all at the nickel spot barring any trades. Again, this is probably part of a bigger plan.
Uh…what about a linebacker?
Clay Matthews has just been released…so there’s that?
The Free agent linebacker market is stagnant. All the top names were snapped up almost instantly and it didn’t help that the Eagles lost both Bradham and Grugier-Hill. There’s a clear need for depth, but don’t forget about standup-DE Genard Avery, who was traded for at the deadline last season.
Avery made an instant impact with a sack on his debut, but was rarely used in the games that followed. The Eagles may want to try and find him a solid role as an OLB, replacing Kamu Grugier-Hill. If they trust in Nate Gerry, it perhaps opens the door for drafting of someone like Patrick Queen as a three-down linebacker in the middle.
Aaaand a wideout?
Robby Anderson is still sitting pretty in a market that really hasn’t moved that much. The Eagles addressed the trenches first as per usual and the addition of Darius Slay leaves only two prominent needs on the roster and 8 draft picks. Realistically, Greg Ward Jr. has earned the right to be in the slot conversation and although the Eagles could double-dip in the draft or pay Anderson or Perriman etc handsomely, there is a much stronger chance of a round 1 WR slide, leaving Howie to lick his lips at pick 21.