Stay or Go: 5 Eagles defenders who could face an early exit this offseason

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PHILADELPHIA, PA – AUGUST 12: Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Kyzir White (43) intercepts a pass during pre-season game between the New York Jets and the Philadelphia Eagles on August 12, 2022 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia PA. (Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

There are plenty of reasons why the Eagles and their fanbase should feel optimistic about their team’s defeat in Super Bowl LVII. The biggest, of course, is the return of franchise quarterback, Jalen Hurts and a plethora of key skill guys that will be key to the quarterback’s continued development.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t decisions to make.

With 20 free agents on the outs, and a big extension looming for Jalen Hurts, general manager Howie Roseman will need to work out his priorities for the coming offseason. And as we get closer to the start of NFL free agency, let’s take a look at who should stay and who should leave in regards to their top-flight secondary and linebacking core.

James Bradberry – Go

History will not be kind to Bradberry’s lone season in Philadelphia after how it ended, but he really was terrific throughout the entire season. The Eagles were the best against the pass and a big reason why was that James Bradberry was as solid a lock-down corner as the Eagles have possessed.

The difficult part is because Bradberry has had such a good year, he will be in line for a massive contract, and one the Eagles will not simply pay. As tough as it is to see him walk, the Eagles aren’t going to overpay him.

Marcus Epps – Go

Epps is a serviceable starter and has improved leaps and bounds since he came into the NFL. Despite this, teams began to exploit his lack of coverage skills late in the season, and it leaves many to think he could be left free to look for a new deal elsewhere. With the emergence of Reed Blankenship this year, the importance of bringing Marcus Epps back isn’t as strong and the eagles shouldn’t worry to much about him walking.

Chauncey Gardner-Johnson – Stay

Outside of Javon Hargrave and Jalen Hurts, there isn’t a more important free agent on the team that needs to be back in midnight green than Chauncey Gardner-Johnson. CGJ was tied for the league lead in interceptions and brings a swagger that Philly was desperately needing in the secondary. His position flexibility also allows the Eagles to be creative in the secondary. This one is a no-brainer – CGJ needs to be back in Philly.

Kyzir White – Stay

The Eagles are probably bringing back either White or TJ Edwards at linebacker, not both. White is the better all-around backer and played very well in coverage all season. Much will be made about Edward’s improvements, but a big reason for that was his partner is far more competent than other players he had been paired with.

A Kyzir White-Nakobe Dean pairing next year will be beautiful to watch. Especially with a new defensive coordinator coming in it would make sense for the Eagles to go with that tandem as opposed to investing in Edwards long term. That money could be allocated elsewhere.

TJ Edwards – Go

Edwards had a great season all year but the Super Bowl was arguably the worst game he has ever played. Edwards looked slow, unsure, and just plain incompetent in stopping the run and it leaves many to believe that the team would be better off with Nakobe Dean starting next year in Edwards’ place. Edwards is a great story, but the Eagles need to upgrade big-time on some key defensive positions and he is at the top of the list.

Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire