The Eagles have a ton of holes on the defensive side of the ball heading into the offseason. Fans can argue about the importance of a quality LB, a dominant safety, or even a #2 corner.
But the position that has become the most glaring weakness is the defensive line. The Eagles were one of the worst teams in the NFL in sacks this past season. It would be fair to expect significant money and resources will be used at the edge rusher position over the next few months.
But as we get closer to free agency, one name stands out as an intriguing option for Philadelphia: Haason Reddick.
The former Temple standout has made a living at getting after the QB recently. Reddick has totaled 23.5 sacks the last couple of years after questions of schematic fit through his first three years in the league. After signing a one-year deal with the Panthers last offseason, Reddick will most likely head to free agency again with all eyes on Philadelphia to bring him home.
As with everything, the main question will be ‘should they take a flier on Reddick, or stay away and wait for the NFL Draft to address the DLine?’
As always – there are multiple layers here to think about that make this more than just a yes or no question.
In terms of an overall scheme fit, Reddick plays predominately in a pass-rushing linebacker role of a 3-4 defense. That doesn’t usually mean he’s the best fit for a place like Philly.
While the Genard Avery experiment has clearly failed to provide tangible results, Reddick would be an overall upgrade for that SAM linebacker position. The issue would be that the Eagles don’t really use the SAM all too much. Avery only played in 160 snaps last season while Reddick was in for over 800 snaps.
Carolina’s defense is a lot different than Philadelphia’s. We’ve also seen that DC Jonathan Gannon isn’t as flexible as Nick Sirianni when it comes to scheme. For all the talk about putting players in the best position to succeed, Gannon ran HIS scheme and it made for a mess of players that weren’t good, or didn’t match it well at all.
There’s always a possibility that Reddick could move to DE as part of a fully-fledged pass rusher, but that would be a lot of money to gamble on a position and player that you aren’t sure will fit in Gannon’s defense.
Regarding Reddick’s skillset, there’s no debate that the Eagles need a player like him to rush the passer. Reddick was superb in Carolina, will be 28 this upcoming season, and is just about to enter his prime.
From a simple plug-and-play situation, there’s no denying the Eagles need answers at defensive end. Derek Barnett and Ryan Kerrigan were disasters last season, and the Eagles cannot continue to rely ONLY on Milton Williams and Josh Sweat for their sacks. Nobody knows how Brandon Graham will look after his 2021 campaign ended with an injury. There needs to be another solid option who can consistently get after the passer.
If Gannon can figure out a way to move Reddick to the edge on passing downs, while playing him more than Avery ever did, Reddick fills an easy need the team has quietly had for some time.
It gets tricky when you begin to question if the Eagles should target Reddick in FA. Reddick can clearly garner a lot of money from 3-4 defenses and has the sack numbers the last couple of years to prove he’s worthy of a hefty extension.
But for an Eagles team that doesn’t exclusively run the 3-4, doesn’t particularly use the SAM as much as others, the question will be how much are they willing to pay a player like Reddick.
If they are paying him to be an edge rusher, with the full inclination to move him to DE this upcoming season, then the argument could be made to give him top edge rusher money. But he would also be undersized for an edge rusher and could hurt the team if he’s in against the run.
There’s no question he’s better than Genard Avery, but why would the Eagles fork over a ton of money for a player they might not even use a lot?
The Final Say
Reddick is a heck of a talent, and it’s good to see the bet he made on himself last season has paid off. While many in Philadelphia would want him to return to the city he played college ball in, there’s no guarantee he shares that thought process.
With the draft having a ton of solid edge rushers, and other defensive lineman that better matches what Gannon is looking for at the position, it’s fair to question whether Reddick would truly be the right option for Howie Roseman in free agency.
And while we know Roseman has no issue throwing money at players to solve major roster holes, there’s also evidence to support he’s not just going to throw money at players who don’t fit the scheme the coaching staff is trying to play.
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