Eagles free agency: Six defensive ends the team should target

NFL: NOV 17 Jets at Redskins
LANDOVER, MD – NOVEMBER 17: New York Jets Linebacker Tarell Basham (93) during a NFL game between the Washington Redskins and the New York Jets on November 17, 2019 at Fedex Field, in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Tony Quinn/Icon Sportswire)

The Eagles have a clear need at defensive end. Brandon Graham’s extension ensures that there’s at least one player who can hold the fort while they figure out how many other long-term pieces they have, but the initial outlook isn’t great. Derek Barnett’s future is uncertain, Josh Sweat looks like the real deal, and beyond that is a barren wasteland.

In what is now my third attempt writing this article after Monday’s theatrics, here are five free agent edge rushers who could be snug fits in Philadelphia.

Tarell Basham

Another connection to Jonathan Gannon here, Tarel Basham was waived by the Colts after a disappointing start to his NFL career, but has since found somewhat of a resurgence in New York. The Jets don’t intend to keep Basham around, meaning the Eagles are free to slide into those DMs.

The 26-year-old is coming off of a career-year where he amassed 3.5 sacks, 13 QB hits, and 3 fumbles while playing in 64% of snaps. He may be a little more expensive due to his age, but it could be a price worth paying for serviceable depth behind BG, Barnett (?), and Josh Sweat.

Tanoh Kpassagnon

 Tanoh Kpassagnon is a local kid who brings a lot of intrigue to the table. He stands at 6’7, 289 lbs, which is eyebrow-raising. His production, however, is not. This could lead to a low-risk, high-reward signing for the Eagles.

After a stunning 11 QB hits in 2019 where proved he could thrive in a 4-3 scheme, the Villanova product struggled to find consistency, amassing only 1 sack and 4 QB hits despite playing in 67% of snaps, 5% more than he did in the season beforehand. However, he did finish third in team pressures on the Chiefs defensive line according to PFF.

Kpassagnon has the versatility to line up at both the 3-tech and 5-tech positions and wreak havoc from both. Consistency is the name of the game here but if the Eagles don’t want to invest more than $2M in a defensive end this offseason, this could be one player worth taking a flyer on.

Brent Urban

29-year-old Brent Urban was one of the few silver linings in what was otherwise a very cloudy season for the Bears. As injuries mounted, Urban stepped up and became a reliable piece of the Chicago pass-rush machine, amassing 36 tackles. 2.5 sacks and 2 TFL. It may not have been the flashiest season in the world, but that’s never been his calling. Even dating back to his days in Baltimore, Urban has maintained a reputation of being able to kick up a storm in a moment’s notice and make an impact play when you least expect it. He’s definitely worth a look.

Kerry Hyder

When the Niners were ripped apart by injuries, Hyder stepped up in a big way. The 30-year-old put together an 8.5 sack (most on the team) campaign that also included 10 TFL and 18 QB hits. Age may not be on his side for much longer and it’s hard to really go all-in on the idea he could replicate that production in 2021, but there is absolutely a case to be made for a player who could bridge the gap while younger players develop.

Hyder may come at a premium in comparison to the other names on this list. If the Eagles were in the race to land S John Johnson, however, maybe this won’t be too much of a concern.

Ezekiel Ansah

I feel like I’ve shipped the idea of Ziggy Ansah to the Eagles for years now, mainly because of the Jim Schwartz connection and the fact that he’s been a historically productive player. It’s hard to forget his 14.5 sack season back in 2015, but much easier to forget his career away from Detroit.

Ansah struggled in Seattle and his short stint in San Francisco was just as disappointing. This leaves the Eagles with a sense of value. Now 31-years-old, Ansah’s best days are far behind him and injury setbacks haven’t exactly helped that. But if the Eagles were really in a pinch and needed some veteran help, this may be the cheapest signing with some potential upside.

*I would put Everson Griffen here, but for some reason, former Cowboys players just can’t seem to get it right when they land in Philadelphia.

Steven Means

A former Eagle who many believe should still be on the team today. Steven Means used to ball out during preseason, dropping the hammer and playing with real tenacity. Maybe it’s time to bring him home.

Means missed the entire 2019 season due to injury after signing with the Falcons in 2018. However, he bounced back and played in all 16 games last season, posting 38 tackles and 3 sacks, receiving the team’s Ed Block Courage Award in the process.

Now 30-years-old, Means won’t command a high-end deal but could be a fun EDGE4 player to bring in after he played 59% of defensive snaps in Atlanta. Keeping the motor fresh could pave the way to a similarly productive campaign in 2021.

Photo by Tony Quinn/Icon Sportswire